ISLAMABAD – At least 26 journalists were killed in Pakistan during the last five years for their journalism work but only the cases of 16 journalists went to court for trial and of which the prosecution and trial was concluded in six cases and conviction handed down in one case only.
This was revealed in a new research study tracking and examining the failure of the justice system in prosecuting and punishing the killers of all journalists killed in Pakistan during May 2013 and May 18, released here on the eve of the International Day to End Impunity for Crimes against Journalists observed by the United Nations on November 2 every year.
The impunity enjoyed by the killers of journalists in Pakistan is one of the highest in the world and the murdered journalists and their families have received justice in only one of the 26 cases, and in this case also a conviction was handed down by a lower court, but the accused was able to get the sentence overturned at the high court level.
“Journalists continue to get target killed and threats against them continue to grow and the State’s legal system (police failure) and justice system (courts failure) have failed to provide them justice,” Iqbal Khattak, the Executive Director of Freedom Network said on the occasion to urge all stakeholders of media to join hands to fight back deep-rooted impunity for crimes against journalists and media.
“This means the killers enjoy total impunity with no fear of getting punished for killing journalists. Journalists are dead and their killers are free,” he added.
The study further said ‘Impunity of Crimes Against Journalists Pakistan Report 2018’ has been produced by Freedom Network, a national independent organization that monitors attacks against journalists and works on journalists’ safety issues is titled “Crime and Punishment in Pakistan’s Journalism World, Zero Justice for Pakistan’s 26 Murdered Journalists.”
The report, the first of its kind focusing on impunity of crimes against journalists based on a special impunity index developed by Freedom Network and by examining the FIRs of journalists and interviews with the families, lawyers and former colleagues of the murdered journalists revealed the following startling findings,
The study also revealed that newspaper journalists (18 of 26 killed) are three times most vulnerable than TV journalists (8 killed). Punjab is the most dangerous province in Pakistan to practice journalism (8 killed) followed by Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (7 killed). Print journalists are at most risk of being murdered if they are based in Punjab (6 killed) and KP (6 killed) and TV journalists if they are based in Sindh (4 killed) and Punjab (2 killed). The most murderers of journalists remain faceless and unidentified. The threat sources are identified/suspected by the victims and their families in only one in every three cases of journalists murdered and worryingly include state actors, political parties and religious groups. In 60 per cent of the cases the police fail to complete the investigations into the murder of a journalist to generate a final challan or a full investigation report to submit before a court for trial. It also said the killer of only one of the 26 journalists murdered in the period 2013-18 was convicted (3.5 per cent). The only case of conviction of an accused killer was at the district court level in KP after which he successfully challenged the conviction at the high court level.