Supporting safety of journalists in Pakistan

Vibeke Jensen, UNESCO Director for Pakistan; UN Resident Coordinator Neil Buhne; Guy Berger, UNESCO Director for Freedom of Expression and Media Development; Murtaza Khan, brother of slain journalist Wali Babar Khan. © UNESCO

Fifty participants joined a UNESCO workshop in Islamabad on Thursday in the build-up to the International Day to End Impunity for Crimes against Journalists to be marked on 2 November.

The discussants examined the issues raised in the draft of a new study covering journalists' safety and the problem of impunity in the country. The research is based on specialized indicators developed through UNESCO's Intergovernmental Programme for the Development of Communication (IPDC).

Mapping the UN Plan of Action on the safety of journalists, the draft study looks at the role of international organizations, state institutions, civil society, academia and media organizations.

These different groups were present in the deliberations and came from different regions of Pakistan as part of the validation and finalisation of the research.

Journalist Hamid Mir and UNESCO's Guy Berger. © UNESCO

Prominent speakers included Neil Buhne, UN Resident coordinator; Murtaza Khan, brother of murdered journalist Wali Babar Khan; Khashish ur Rahman from the Ministry of Law, Justice and Human Rights; Cesar Guedes who is country Director for UNODC; and journalist Hamid Mir who survived an assassination attempt.

The draft report, compiled under contract with NGO Irada, will be completed by the end of November, based on the feedback at the workshop. It will provide a baseline against which changes in the efforts to protect journalists can be measured over the next two years.

Other events will be held in Pakistan to promote an end to impunity, including a candlelit vigil in Islamabad by Media Matters and Bytesforall, with the Pakistan Federal Union of Journalists. The Rural Media Network Project will host a seminar with the Press Club in Sadiqabad.

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