On October 3, 2003, a reporter for a Sindhi-language newspaper the daily Kawish and for Kavish Television News, Ameer Bux Brohi, was shot dead in Shikarpur in the Sindh province by two unidentified gunmen in front of the local police station. He was shot five times and was rushed to the Shikarpur Civil Hospital by police, where he succumbed to the injuries.
Despite his case reaching trial in an Anti-Terrorism Court in Jacobabad city, the family pardoned the accused in 2015 in return for monetary compensation. Brohi’s case was settled through the traditional jirga system where tribal elders resolve cases like murder. The situation reflects the financial and political power of suspected killers, who are able to evade accountability. This ultimately leads to a failure to provide justice for the murdered journalists.
Monetary compensation makes it more difficult to convict suspected killers of journalists. PPF has documented at least four cases where media-related murder cases have been settled after families of victims pardoned the killers in exchange for money.
A common feature in the cases settled through money has been the power to pressure the families of victims. Most media personnel in Pakistan do not have the financial or social power to stand up against powerful people who killed or injured their loved ones.
Financial pressure has forced many families to compromise. But in many cases this option only became necessary because of the slow and inefficient justice system, where families struggle in vain for a speedy resolution of cases. Financial compensation may offer a quicker fix, but the price of compromise could be the miscarriage of justice.
PPF believes, that media killings should be treated as a crime against the state, and thus should not be allowed to be settled by families or by local elders. Journalists and other media personnel are attacked and even murdered, not because of personal animosity, but because those in positions of power and influence want to prevent information damaging to their interest from reaching the wider audiences through the media.
Shikarpur Press Club President Sodho Jams told PPF that he believed that the murder was motivated by Brohi’s reporting on sensitive local issues that may have angered feudal strongmen who were from the same cast. He said that the slain journalist wrote about abuses committed by the police and agents of landowners in Shikarpur.
He said that they demonstrated throughout the province and called for a full investigation into the shooting. Jams added that the family had fully supported Brohi’s family but the family had resolved the matter through monetary compensation.
Daily Kawish Editor Muhmmad Niaz said that local landlords were “angry and jealous” of Borhi and killed him. The alleged killers — Shahnawaz Brohi, Zulfiqar Waheed and Ghulam Nabi — were influential people in the area and had been involved in different crimes.
According to Niaz, the alleged killers were jealous as local residents of the area started discussing their matters with Brohi after finding out about their criminal activities. He said that Brohi’s family had resolved the matter without consulting them (Daily Kawish).
However, the case remains in the court for 12 years, Niaz said, adding that the administration of the publication fully supports Brohi’s family in all legal and financial matters. Brohi had been the sole breadwinner for his family — his mother and sister.