World Congress opens with calls for more press freedom

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CAPE TOWN (South Africa): International Press Institute (IPI), one of the world’s oldest global press freedom organisations, has expressed grave concern over recent threats to Pakistani media persons including senior journalists of The News and has urged the government to ensure protection of free speech in the country.

“The recent threats to newsman will have chilling effects on media’s functioning. We believe media should be able to report freely on any issues including politics, military, governance and trials without any fear and threat,” said Alison Bethel McKenzie, executive director of IPI in an interview with The News, on the sideline of the 63rd World Congress which began here on Sunday.

She said the state of media in Pakistan is horrible with nine journalist killed in the country during the last year and many receiving threats this year.Several journalists belonging to ‘The News’ have received life threats after reporting and expressing their opinion on the trial of former military dictator General (R) Pervez Musharraf.

The IPI Executive Director also expressed concern over attack on other Pakistani media outlets reportedly by some militant groups.She said the restoration of democracy has slightly improved the status of media freedom in Pakistan but the government must ensure that everyone can report on all kind of issues without any fear.

Earlier the speakers at the IPI World Congress acknowledged that Pakistan has become one of the world’s most dangerous countries for media persons. Nine journalists were killed in the country in 2013 alone.

The IPI has also urged the governments across the globe to abolish anti-media legislation including criminal defamation, protection of secrecy and other laws and stop persecution of journalists.

Around 300 journalists from all over the world have converged here to discuss ways to protect freedom of media around the globe, at a time when journalists around the world are facing grave threats from vested interests for exposing corruption, injustice and violation of human rights.

In her Executive Director’s Report: The State of Press Freedom, McKenzie said so far over 20 journalists have been killed in the year 2014 across the globe while 119 had been killed in 2013.

“Nine journalists were killed last year in Pakistan, 13 in the Philippines, 11 in India … and three in Afghanistan. In many Asian countries, the authorities fail to address threats and crimes against journalists. Violence has become a powerful deterrent to the coverage of certain sensitive issues,” she added.

She said traditional and new media are thriving in many parts of South Asia, Africa and the Middle East and might grow even more if freed of the clutches of government control.The International Press Institute is a global network of editors, media executives and leading journalists founded in 1950.

During the conference participating journalists also held a peaceful demonstration to protest the continued detention of the three Al-Jazeera journalists by the Egyptian government.

Charged with falsifying news and involvement with the outlawed Muslim Brotherhood movement, these journalists are under detention since 29 December 2013.

The News

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