Amnesty International has recently urged the government of Pakistan to take action against human rights abuses against media workers in Pakistan. According to Amnesty International, “journalists in Pakistan live under the constant threat of killings, harassment and other violence from all sides, including intelligence services, political parties and armed groups like the Taliban.” The Pakistani government has nearly completely failed to curb human rights abuses against journalists and has shown apathy, or an inability, to bring those responsible to justice.
Amnesty International has documented 34 cases of journalists being murdered in Pakistan in retaliation to their work since the restoration of democratic rule in 2008, yet only one perpetrator has been caught. The report is based on comprehensive field research into over seventy cases, including interviews with over one hundred media workers in Pakistan.
David Griffiths, Amnesty International’s Deputy Asia-Pacific Director, has characterized the problem as “a disturbing pattern of abuses carried out to silence their reporting.” Furthermore, “[t]he constant threat puts journalists in an impossible position, where virtually any sensitive story leaves them at risk of violence from one side or another.” In particular, journalists covering national security issues or human rights are most at risk.
The Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) has found that Pakistan is the fifth deadliest country in the world for journalists, with a majority of journalist deaths attributable to targeted murders. A secondary reason for journalist deaths in Pakistan is attributable to dangerous assignments.
A democracy requires a free press in order to operate and keep its citizens informed. If journalists live in fear, this creates a chilling effect that stifles effective governance. Currently, Pakistan is one of the largest democracies in the world, and therefore it is imperative that its government heeds the public outcry from Amnesty International and other sources. How do you think Pakistan’s government should respond to such a problem?