The Edition

Latest

UN decries attacks on journalists, activists in Pakistan

08 September 2020, MVT 16:34
In this picture taken on August 31, 2020, women discuss as they check out the social online group 'The Soul Sisters Pakistan' on their Facebook page, in Lahore.† - "Women in Pakistan are really, really strong. We have a voice. We just donít have enough spaces to use that voice," says Kanwal Ahmed, an agony aunt to some 260,000, determined to change the situation. Her female-only online hub sees traditionally taboo topics such as sex, divorce, and domestic violence discussed freely in a conservative country where there are few avenues for women to discuss personal problems. (Photo by Arif ALI / AFP) /
08 September 2020, MVT 16:34

The United Nation voiced alarm Tuesday at growing attacks on journalists and activists in Pakistan, often amid cries of blasphemy, urging Islamabad to protect those facing threats and probe any violence.

The UN rights office said it was growing increasingly concerned at numerous instances of incitement to violence, both online and off, particularly against women and minority journalists and activists, as well as physical attacks.

It pointed to the case of journalist Shaheena Shaheen, who was shot dead last Saturday by unidentified men in Balochistan's Kech district.

And last year, four journalists and bloggers were killed in Pakistan in connection with their reporting, including Arooj Iqbal, a woman who was shot dead in Lahore as she tried to launch her own local newspaper.

"In the vast majority of such cases, those responsible have not been investigated, prosecuted and held to account," rights office spokesman Rupert Colville told reporters in Geneva.

He pointed out that women journalists in Pakistan last month had warned of a "coordinated campaign" of social media attacks against anyone who was critical of government policies.

He stressed that accusations of blasphemy were "especially worrying", pointing out that they "can put accused individuals at imminent risk of violence".

Colville said the rights office had raised its concerns directly with the Pakistani government and had urged it to take "immediate, concrete steps to ensure the protection of journalists and human rights defenders who have been subjected to threats."

"We also stress the need for prompt, effective, thorough and impartial investigations with a view to ensuring accountability in cases of violence and killings," he said.

The UN rights office had also called on the Pakistani leadership to "unequivocally condemn incitement to violence against religious minorities", he said, as well as "what appears to be an increase in the use of blasphemy laws for personal or political score-settling

Geneva, Switzerland | AFP

MORE ON WORLD