Spike in Pakistan Among Journalists, Rights Workers
August 22, 2011
office of the U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights says it has
received numerous reports of abductions, disappearances and
extrajudicial killings in Pakistan for years, and those disturbing
incidents are on the increase. The U.N. says the principal targets of
such crimes are journalists, human-rights defenders and political
The spokesman for the U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights, Rupert
Colville, said in the past eight days alone, the U.N. Human Rights
Office has received reports of the killing of one journalist in
Baluchistan and the disappearance of another journalist in North
He says that various journalist groups cite Pakistan as one of the most
dangerous places, if not the most dangerous place, for journalists.
"At least 16 were killed in 2010 and according to the Committee to
Protect Journalists, nine journalists have been killed in Pakistan so
far in 2011. None of the cases have been fully or satisfactorily
investigated," said Colville. "In Baluchistan alone, there were
disturbing reports that 25 people - this is a mix of journalists,
writers, students and human rights defenders - have been
extra-judicially killed within the first four months of 2011.”
Notorious cases, such as al-Qaida's kidnapping and brutal murder of Wall
Street Journal reporter Daniel Pearl, in 2002 are rare. Foreign
journalists usually are not targeted. It is the homegrown journalists
who are at risk.
Colville said the gravity of the risks they run is well documented by
the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan. For example, he said, a
commission report on Baluchistan reveals 143 cases of disappearances,
including journalists, as of May 2011.
same report lists 140 missing persons - journalists among them - found
dead in Baluchistan between July 2010 and May 2011. The U.N. official
said few, if any, of these crimes' perpetrators have been apprehended
and brought to justice.
"We would like to see satisfactory investigations to make it clear what
is happening. There are lots of rumors, lots of allegations about
various cases and who is responsible, etc., and they do not seem to be
satisfactorily explained," said Colville. "So I think it is key for
everyone, including the authorities in Pakistan, to produce some clarity
on what is going on."
The U.N. Human Rights office that monitors such events says it is
gravely concerned that extra-judicial killings, abductions and
disappearances are not abating in Pakistan. International human rights
monitors are calling for an immediate stop to such violations, and
urging Pakistan's government to take immediate steps to independently
investigate these cases.