The conflict in Syria, a spike in Iraqi bloodshed, and political violence in Egypt accounted for the high number of journalists killed on the job in 2013. A CPJ special report by Elana Beiser
The conflict in Syria, a spike in Iraqi bloodshed, and political violence in Egypt accounted for the high number of journalists killed on the job in 2013. A CPJ special report by Elana Beiser
CPJ's report, Roots of Impunity, published earlier this year, provides a glimpse of the grim realities that journalists in Pakistan face when they cross red lines. Many journalists are threatened, harassed, and intimidated by a host of actors, including members of Pakistan's security and intelligence apparatus. Some of these cases get reported, but in many instances journalists stay quiet to avoid further trouble. Almost every Pakistani journalist visiting CPJ tells me that he or she routinely receives threats.
The Committee to Protect Journalists has joined the Alliance for Access, a coalition of Pakistani media groups, academic and student organizations, and telecommunications companies working to promote open access, in condemning Monday's attack on the offices of Express Media Group in Karachi.
New York, November 18, 2013--As one of the focus countries for implementation of the U.N. Plan of Action for the Safety of Journalists and Issue of Impunity, a strong statement on November 23, the International Day to End Impunity, would affirm that the Pakistani government has political will to investigate and punish the murderers of journalists, the Committee to Protect Journalists stated in a letter to Muhammad Nawaz Sharif, prime minister of Pakistan.
Two murdered journalists for the Africa service of Radio France Internationale, Ghislaine Dupont, 51, and Claude Verlon, 58, might have had a chance. They were abducted on November 2 in Kidal in northern Mali, but the vehicle their captors were driving suddenly broke down, according to news reports.
New York, October 15, 2013--The Committee to Protect Journalists calls on Pakistani Minister of Information Pervaiz Rasheed to follow through on a public commitment he made last week to appoint a special prosecutor to investigate attacks against journalists. Since his statement, one journalist was murdered on Friday and another was beaten on Thursday, according to news reports.
Ali Chishti, who writes for The Friday Times, has gone public in Islamabad with details of his abduction and beating last Friday, August 30. Chishti is making the rounds of TV talk shows describing how he was picked up in Karachi by uniformed police driving a police vehicle, blindfolded, switched to another police vehicle, taken to a small room somewhere in Karachi, and beaten by men he does not think were police officers. After nine hours, he was dropped by the side of the road at 4:30 Saturday morning.
New York, September 6, 2013--The Committee to Protect Journalists calls on the Pakistani government to ensure that there is a full investigation into the abduction and beating of a journalist for The Friday Times. Ali Chishti, who writes on national security and counter-terrorism, told CPJ and local news outlets that he was abducted and beaten on Friday, August 30, and released the next morning.
The government of Balochistan, the troubled southwestern province of Pakistan, registered a case against national television news channel ARY on Monday, August 26, after it aired a video clip of the destruction of the residence of Pakistan's founder, Muhammed Ali Jinnah. The case was filed under Pakistan's Anti-Terrorist Act of 1997, claiming that airing the footage could incite "violence or [...] glorify crime," in contravention of the Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority (PEMRA).
New York, August 16, 2013--Pakistani authorities should immediately investigate an attack on the offices of Karachi's Express Media Group early today, the Committee to Protect Journalists said today.
Dear Prime Minister Sharif: We are writing to express our deep concern about the expulsion of at least three foreign journalists from Pakistan. While Pakistan remains a dangerous country for journalists, we are concerned that it is also fast becoming inhospitable to international correspondents.
In our report, "Roots of Impunity: Pakistan's Endangered Press and the Perilous Web of Militancy, Security, and Politics," we included a long list of recommendations for the new government of Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif to undertake to combat assaults on journalists and impunity in their murders. But there is a step Sharif could take immediately to address one overtly hostile act against journalists.
Among the more 200,000 Pakistanis living in London is Altaf Hussain, leader of the Muttahida Qaumi Movement. This powerful political party is widely thought to be behind the murder of reporter Wali Khan Babar, a rising star at Geo TV who was shot dead in Karachi in 2011. His coverage focused on politically sensitive topics such as extortion, targeted killings, electricity thefts, land-grabbing, and riots.
Pakistan's general elections in May, though marred by violence that left more than 100 dead, was a reaffirmation of the people's commitment to the democratic process. Voters proved once again that they can make decisions based on their own political interests--and not because of intimidation by those who would perpetrate violence. The media, with their nonstop coverage, arrived as full-fledged partners in the democratic process and were intrinsic to the first civilian transfer of power after the completion of a five-year term by a democratically elected government. Now, the question is: What will come next for the media under Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif's government?
May 30, 2013--On the second anniversary of the murder of Pakistani journalist Saleem Shahzad, the Committee to Protect Journalists calls on authorities to continue investigating and find his killers. An official commission of inquiry concluded in January 2012 that the perpetrators in Shazahd's case were unknown, and there has been no further movement in the investigation.
New York, May 28, 2013--Pakistani authorities should identify the motive behind the fatal shooting of a local crime reporter and bring the perpetrators to justice, the Committee to Protect Journalists said today.
More than 20 journalists have been murdered in reprisal for their work in Pakistan over the past decade. Not one case has been solved, not a single conviction won. This perfect record of impunity has fostered an ever-more violent climate for journalists. Fatalities have jumped in the past five years, and today, Pakistan ranks among the world’s deadliest nations for the press. The targeted killings of two journalists—Wali Khan Babar in Karachi and Mukarram Khan Aatif in the tribal areas—illustrate the culture of manipulation, intimidation, and retribution that has led to this killing spree. A CPJ special report by Elizabeth Rubin
By Bob Dietz
At least 42 journalists have been killed—23 of them murdered—in direct relation to their work in Pakistan in the past decade, CPJ research shows. Not one murder since 2003 has been solved, not a single conviction won. Despite repeated demands from Pakistani and international journalist organizations, not one of these crimes has even been put to a credible trial.
On January 13, 2011, Wali Khan Babar, a 28-year-old correspondent for Geo TV, was driving home after covering another day of gang violence in Karachi. Babar was an unusual face on the airwaves: Popular and handsome, he was a Pashtun from Zhob in Baluchistan near the border with Afghanistan. For Geo, it was a rare boon to have a Pashtun in Karachi, and so the station planned to send him abroad for training to become an anchor.
“No half-hearted police measures or words of consolation from the highest offices in the land will suffice in the aftermath of the brutal treatment meted out to journalist Umar Cheema of The News.”
—Editorial in the newspaper Dawn condemning the September 2010 abduction and beating of Cheema. Intelligence agents were suspected in the attack. No arrests were made.
On the evening of January 17, 2012, a year and four days after Geo TV reporter Wali Khan Babar was gunned down on a busy street in Karachi, Mukarram Khan Aatif, a senior journalist in the tribal region of Pakistan, was offering evening prayers at a mosque near his home in Shabqadar. Two men approached and fired three times, shooting him in the chest and head. One of the bullets passed through Aatif and injured the imam as well. Aatif was pronounced dead at the hospital that night.
A couple of years ago, Hamid Mir, Najam Sethi, Umar Cheema, and other prominent figures in the news media began going public with the threats they were receiving from intelligence agencies. It was a risky calculation, but the silence, they reasoned, encouraged intimidation and allowed impunity to persist.
The murder of Saleem Shahzad in May 2011 galvanized journalists across Pakistan in a way that few other events have. For a short time their power as a “union” was felt. They secured a commission of inquiry. They named ISI officers who had threatened Shahzad and many other journalists. They detailed those encounters in a public record available on the Internet. The resulting report offers a series of promising recommendations, saying in part:
CPJ research has determined that 42 journalists were killed in Pakistan in direct relation to their work from January 1, 2003, through December 31, 2012. An additional 12 journalists were killed in unclear circumstances during the time period. Capsule reports on each death follow, beginning with cases in which CPJ has confirmed a work-related motive.
The unsolved murders of three Pakistani journalists reflect a government that is not guaranteeing the rule of law or fundamental human rights. CPJ's Bob Dietz narrates. Animation by Dave Mayers and production by Dana Chivvis
Read our accompanying special report, "Roots of Impunity," which examines the culture of anti-press violence in Pakistan.
New York, May 17, 2013--Pakistani authorities should dismiss separate complaints filed against newspapers and journalists in Baluchistan for publishing statements made by banned militant groups, the Committee to Protect Journalists said today.
New York, May 10, 2013 - The Committee to Protect Journalists calls on Pakistan's interim government to reverse its decision to expel New York Times bureau chief Declan Walsh from the country. The order comes on the eve of national elections that will bring about the first successful change of civilian government in Pakistan's history.
Gerardo Ortega's news and talk show on DWAR in Puerto Princesa, Philippines, went off as usual on the morning of January 24, 2011. Ortega, like many radio journalists in the Philippines, was outspoken about government corruption, particularly as it concerned local mining issues. His show over, Ortega left the studios and headed to a local clothing store to do some shopping. There, he was shot in the back of the head. His murder underlines the characteristics and security challenges common to many of the killings documented as part of CPJ's new Impunity Index: A well-known local journalist whose daily routines were easily tracked, Ortega had been followed and killed by a hired gunman. He had been threatened many times before in response to his tough political commentary, a pattern that shows up time and again on CPJ's Impunity Index.
New York, April 16, 2013--At least one journalist was killed and two were injured in a suicide bomb attack during a political rally today in Pakistan's northwestern provincial capital of Peshawar, according to news reports.
Umar Cheema, a CPJ International Press Freedom Award winner in 2011, was a strong runner-up for this year's Osborn Elliott Prize for Excellence in Journalism on Asia, awarded for the last 10 years by the Asia Society in New York. Umar's report, Representation Without Taxation, analyzed the tax returns of Pakistani members of parliament for 2011.
New York, April 8, 2013--Pakistani authorities should immediately investigate an attack on the Karachi bureau of the Urdu-language Daily Tawar and ensure the perpetrators are brought to justice, the Committee to Protect Journalists said today.
New York, March 18, 2013--Pakistani authorities announced today that they have apprehended a militant who was allegedly involved in the 2002 murder of Wall Street Journal reporter Daniel Pearl in Karachi, according to news reports.
"As with every journalist murder, any and all perpetrators in the slaying of Daniel Pearl must be prosecuted and punished," said CPJ Asia Program Coordinator Bob Dietz. "In order to curb growing impunity in Pakistan, it is imperative that authorities send the strongest possible signal that acts of anti-press violence will not go unpunished."
Representatives from 40 Pakistani and international press groups, development organizations, and media houses came together in Islamabad last week to discuss ways to better protect local journalists at risk of violence, and means to combat the virtually perfect record of impunity that assailants enjoy in this country. It's none too soon. Three journalists have died already in Pakistan this year, and more than 40 have been killed over the past decade. About two dozen have been targeted for murder. On the eve of the March 6-7 conference, members of an ARY Television news crew were shot and beaten by thugs in Hyderabad. The attack attests to the dangerous situation in Pakistan where journalists routinely face threats from an array of sources; where reporters working on dangerous beats have little protection; and where law enforcement response to anti-press attacks is nearly nonexistent.
Owais Toheed, head of ARY News, cancelled his speaking slot for Wednesday at the conference I'm attending in Islamabad. Organized by UNESCO, the Open Society Foundations, Intermedia, and International Media Support, the meeting's title says it all: International Conference on Safety and Security of Journalists in Pakistan. The reason Toheed couldn't attend is because he was tearing toward Hyderabad, where one of ARY's investigative camera crews was attacked earlier today.
March 1, 2013, New York--Pakistani authorities should investigate today's murder of a journalist in the country's restive Baluchistan province, determine the motive, and apprehend the perpetrators immediately, the Committee to Protect Journalists said today.
New York, February 27, 2013--Pakistani authorities should immediately launch an investigation into the targeted murder of a veteran journalist who was shot dead today in the Federally Administered Tribal Areas, the Committee to Protect Journalists said. Malik Mumtaz had worked for several mainstream news outlets and had recently been elected president of the regional press club, news reports said.
CPJ's Robert Mahoney identifies the 10 countries where press freedom suffered the most in 2012. They include Syria, the world's deadliest country for the press; Russia, where repressive laws took effect; Brazil, where journalist murders soared; and Ethiopia, where terror laws are used to silence the press. (3:26)
Pakistan remained one of the deadliest nations in the world for the press, a situation that appeared unlikely to change given the government's unwillingness to confront the problem. In March, Pakistan joined with Brazil and India in raising objections to a comprehensive UNESCO proposal to protect the press and combat impunity in journalist murders. Pakistan has been one of the world's worst nations in combating deadly anti-press violence, CPJ's Impunity Index shows. At least 23 journalist murders have gone unpunished since the killing of Wall Street Journal reporter Daniel Pearl in 2002. A 2012 report by the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan showed growing ties between political repression and the rising incidence of violence against news media. Threats to journalists in Pakistan were no longer confined to traditionally violent areas such as the border region, the Federally Administered Tribal Areas, or Baluchistan, CPJ research found. Reporters in Islamabad, Peshawar, Quetta, Karachi, and Lahore faced persistent threats. And in another troubling development, several international journalists told CPJ that militants had begun threatening them more frequently, as the groups started paying more attention to their global reputations.
Attacks on the Press | Bahrain, Bangladesh, Brazil, Cambodia, Colombia, Ecuador, Egypt, India, Indonesia, Iran, Iraq, Israel and the Occupied Palestinian Territory, Mexico, Nigeria, Pakistan, Philippines, Russia, Somalia, Syria, Tanzania, Thailand
The highly respected Pakistani editor Ayesha Haroon first came to CPJ's New York office in July 2011, along with her husband, Faisal Bari, and Absar Alam, both of whom work for the Open Society Foundations. We talked about ways to confront the dangerous conditions facing Pakistani journalists. It was a bad year: Seven journalists would be killed before 2011 concluded, making Pakistan the deadliest nation in the world for the press. The year before, eight had died.
It was a great discussion, genuinely exciting, as we talked through possible ideas. Ayesha was a quiet presence at first, but as ideas started flowing, she served as a reality checker for the rest of us. We all knew there are no quick solutions to the problems for journalists in Pakistan, so we looked for practical projects that would tackle them in the mid- or long-term. The meeting ended, the email trails followed, a plan evolved. In the months after, my family lost my 97-year-old mother, and I received gracious notes from the people who had been at that first meeting.
Police, emergency workers, and at least three journalists were killed in a bomb blast on January 10, 2012, that occurred 10 minutes after an initial explosion near a billiards hall in Quetta, capital of Pakistan's restive Baluchistan province, according to news reports and CPJ sources.
New York, January 10, 2013--At least two journalists were killed and two others seriously injured when a bomb went off near a billiards hall in Quetta, capital of Pakistan's restive Baluchistan province, as the journalists were reporting on an explosion that was set off there just minutes earlier, according to local journalists and news reports. Dozens of other people were reported killed in the double bombing, for which the militant group Lashkar-e-Jhangvi claimed responsibility.
The fleeting nature of YouTube's availability in Pakistan this weekend--the site, which has been banned in the country since September, was unblocked for a whole three minutes--is only the latest emblem of Islamabad's erratic and confounding approach to Internet censorship. Those who have been hoping for less opaque tactics apparently are in for disappointment.
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