Deadly year for journalists

Those responsible for killing journalists rarely see repercussions, not just in Pakistan but around the world

December 14, 2022


Journalists around the world continue to face deadly repercussions for bringing facts to the fore, with at least 67 killed in the line of duty this year. The figure is already 20 more than last year and could rise even further in the remaining three weeks of this year. The number rises even further if we consider suspicious deaths not directly linked to their work — the International Federation of Journalists (IFJ), which compiled the list, has condemned the murder of Arshad Sharif but did not include him on the list. However, five Pakistani journalists did make the list. Only war-torn Ukraine, drug cartel-ravaged Mexico, and crime-stricken Haiti had higher death tolls. Meanwhile, at least 375 journalists in different countries are behind bars in various countries for reasons directly attributable to their work.

What makes things worse is that those responsible for killing journalists rarely see repercussions, not just in Pakistan but around the world. Israel, for example, saw the eyewash probe of Shireen Abu Akleh’s murder at the hands of Israeli security forces go unpunished, while we are hard-pressed to recall a single incident of the persons behind attacks on Pakistani journalists facing justice, or even being formally labeled as suspects. In fact, despite former prime minister Imran Khan being labeled a “predator of press freedom”, some critics accuse the incumbent government of failing to live up to their promises of correcting the situation.

Some professional associations believe that international legislation to protect journalists is needed. A senior IFJ official called for the UN to pass a convention on journalists’ safety and “take action in the defence of journalism, one of the key pillars of democracy”. However, unless countries individually ensure the security of journalists, simply keeping the people informed with facts, rather than propaganda, will remain unnecessarily dangerous.

Published in The Express Tribune, December 14th, 2022.

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