Call for Protection for Front-Line Journalists in Pakistan
Source : INSI
Brussels, - Journalists and camera operators in Pakistan's hot spots including Baluchistan, North-West Frontier Province and the Federally Administered Tribal Areas must be provided with training and protection to deal with the extreme conditions in which they are working, said national and international journalists' organisations at the completion yesterday of a safety training program for media personnel in Pakistan.
The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ), the International News Safety Institute (INSI) and the Pakistan Federal Union of Journalists (PFUJ) jointly called on Pakistan's media owners to take immediate and serious action to ensure their staff and freelance personnel are adequately prepared for reporting on civil unrest and conflict zones.
Photo gallery (click to enlarge)
Pakistan is among the top 10 most dangerous countries for journalists in the world. Eight journalists and media workers were murdered or killed in the country in 2007. Five have been murdered or killed so far in 2008.
The three training courses in Karachi and Islamabad from October 20 to 27 provided journalists and camera operators from Quetta and Baluchistan, Peshawar and the tribal areas, and Karachi and interior Sindh with skills to manage and avoid risks while working.
The training, led by a security expert from Hart Security, prepared 50 journalists and camera operators for reporting in war zones and other violent environments, covering bomb blasts and civil disorder, dealing with kidnapping and hostage situations, and administering improvised first-aid.
All the journalists in the program work regularly in dangerous locations and had experienced extreme levels of violence and intimidation as a result of their work, ranging from serious gunshot wounds to regular threats intended to silence their reporting.
The three organisations welcomed an announcement by ARY One television to establish a safety training program and an annual award for camera operators in honour of Arif Khan, an ARY One camera man killed in the bomb blasts in Karachi on October 18, 2007 directed against Benazir Bhutto.
However, the IFJ, INSI and the PFUJ, an IFJ affiliate, called on all media owners across Pakistan to fund and implement safety training programs for their personnel.
They also called on Pakistan's national government to recognise and act on its responsibilities in accordance with the 2006 United Nations Security Council Resolution 1738, which obliges all national governments to protect journalists reporting on conflicts.
"Journalists and camera operators gave powerful testimonies during the training about the grave risks they face on a daily basis. They are concerned not only for their personal welfare but for the safety of their families," the IFJ, INSI and the PFUJ said in a joint statement.
"Media owners and government authorities in Pakistan must act immediately to protect journalists and media personnel. Media owners must provide their personnel with training and equipment, while government at all levels must provide support and an assurance that all acts of violence against journalists, ranging from murder to threats, are fully investigated and the perpetrators brought to