Lahore [Pakistan], June 2 (ANI): The Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP) has expressed "grave concern" over the growing climate of fear, violence, and censorship that currently underpins freedom of expression in the country.
In a press release issued on Tuesday, HRCP said, the recent attack on reporter Asad Ali Toor by unidentified persons allegedly in connection with his work and the decision to take anchor Hamid Mir off the air--following his criticism of the establishment at a civil society protest--represents what has now become an entrenched pattern of unspoken censorship and violent reprisals.
This statement comes in the backdrop of an attack on journalist Asad Ali Toor last month in Islamabad. Closed-circuit television camera footage obtained by Geo News showed three suspects wearing masks leaving Toor's apartment afterward.
According to a policy brief released by the HRCP on Tuesday on the state of press freedom in Pakistan, it has become clear that anyone challenging the preferred narrative will be punished--a sentiment that was unanimous among the journalists who took part in HRCP's discussions for this policy brief.
The document is also critical to ensure that media persons--especially in Balochistan and KP, where fear of investigating and reporting the truth is apparent among journalists--are protected by their employers and state institutions.
In cases where journalists have been murdered in the line of duty, FIRs must be registered, the culprits brought to justice and the victims' families compensated, the HRCP said.
"It is also unacceptable for a profession that can carry enormous personal risk to remain largely devoid of protection mechanisms. Journalists who report from conflict areas, such as in Balochistan and parts of KP, must be provided safety and first-aid training, bulletproof jackets where necessary, and life insurance," the rights commission added. (ANI)