The office of the UN’s human rights commissioner urged Pakistan on Friday to investigate a recent spate of killings and disappearances of journalists.
“In the past eight days alone, we have received reports on the killing of one journalist, Munir Shakir, in Balochistan on August 14, and the disappearance of another journalist, Rehmatullah Darpakhel, three days earlier in North Waziristan on August 11,” OHCHR spokesman Rupert Coleville said.
“We call on all responsible parties to immediately stop such violations of human rights, and we urge the government to take immediate steps to independently investigate these cases,” he said.
Coleville explained that these were far from being isolated incidents.
“Pakistan is cited by various journalist groups as one of the most dangerous if not the most dangerous place for journalists” in the world, he said.
Citing figures from the non-profit Committee to Protect Journalists, Coleville said that 16 reporters were killed in 2010 and 9 journalists had died so far in 2011.
“But two journalists in eight days is quite intense,” he said.
“We’ve already raised it this year ... and we wanted to highlight that nothing has changed since then, and if anything it is getting worse,” he warned. “None of the cases have been fully or satisfactorily investigated,” Coleville added.
Before these two deaths, Saleem Shahzad who was the bureau chief of the Hong-Kong-based Asia Times Online was reported missing from Islamabad on May 30 and within 24 hours, his body was found in Mandi Bahauddin with marks of torture. Intelligence agencies were blamed for the killing.
A five-member commission probing his death has still not been able to complete the investigation. AFP (with additional input from our correspondent)
Published in The Express Tribune, August 20th, 2011.