Freedom House Condemns Murder of Pakistani Journalist


The brutal death of Pakistani journalist, Saleem Shahzad, is a shocking illustration of the deteriorating environment for journalists in Pakistan. Freedom House calls upon Pakistani authorities to conduct a thorough and transparent investigation into his death and to take decisive measures to ensure the protection of journalists.
Shahzad disappeared on Sunday night while on his way to an interview at a local television station. It was suspected by human rights groups that he had been detained by Pakistani intelligence. Two days before he disappeared, Shahzad wrote a story for Asia Times in which he alleged that an al Qaeda attack on a naval base in Karachi had been in retribution for the arrest of several naval officers that had alleged ties to the terrorist group. His body, which was found near his abandoned car, reportedly showed signs of torture.
“The situation for journalists in Pakistan is becoming increasingly dangerous and restrictive as authorities step up efforts to prevent media from reporting on stories that are politically or culturally sensitive,” said Paula Schriefer, director of advocacy at Freedom House. “Freedom House strongly condemns the death of Saleem Shahzad and calls for Pakistan to make every effort to bring his killer to justice.”
In recent years, Pakistan has become one of the most dangerous places in the world to be a journalist. Media freedom is constrained by official attempts to restrict critical reporting and by a high level of violence against journalists. The constitution and other legislation, such as the Official Secrets Act, authorize the government to curb freedom of speech on a range of subjects including the constitution itself, the armed forces, the judiciary, and religion.
Pakistan is ranked Partly Free in Freedom in the World 2011, Freedom House’s annual global assessment of political rights and civil liberties, and Not Free in Freedom of the Press 2011.
For more information on Pakistan, read:
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