UNITED NATIONS: Pakistan unequivocally condemned all attacks on and violence against journalists in the performance of their professional duties.
Participating in a debate on Protection of Journalists in Conflict Situations’ in the UN Security Council, Pakistan’s Permanent Representative Maleeha Lodhi said that Pakistan shares the international outrage on the recent beheading and summary execution of journalists by terrorist organisations. “This barbarism must come to an end and the safety of media personnel should be fully assured.”
Highlighting the role of journalists in the information age, she said that the role and contribution of journalists had become even more crucial, more so in situations of armed conflict as the media was not only witness to facts on the ground but also shaped opinion and assisted in presenting moral and political choices in conflict situations.
Talking about the professional risks faced by journalists, Ambassador Lodhi said: “As a former journalist myself, I know the risks journalists take to unveil and uphold the truth.”
Ms Lodhi said that the threats to journalists have become more complex today as some regions of the world descended into chaos and conflict.
“Several new trends are now in evidence — increased use of terror tactics, rising threats to journalists’ lives in conflict zones and the media’s resort to private armed escorts for their protection,” she added.
She said that the independent journalism was vital for a free society, to hold the powerful to account and for citizens to be informed and actively engaged.
She Lodhi regretted that despite robust provisions of international legal framework for protection of journalists, deliberate violence against journalists was on the rise. To counter this alarming trend, she called for innovative thinking, approaches and responses.
In addition to promoting greater understanding and awareness as well as full and effective implementation of existing provisions of international law, Ambassador Lodhi suggested that the journalists might be identified as a special category of persons to be protected and for strengthening the role of peace-keeping missions for protection of journalists by providing additional resources.
Referring to the problem of impunity that remains a disturbing trend, she urged intensifying efforts to ensure that perpetrators of attacks against journalists were brought to justice.