November 18, 2013
His Excellency Muhammad Nawaz Sharif
Prime Minister's Secretariat
2118 Kalorama Rd., N.W.
Dear Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif:
I write to you from the Committee to Protect Journalists to invite you to speak out against impunity on November 23, the International Day to End Impunity.
Since November 23, 2011, civil society groups around the world have come together annually to demand justice for those who have been targeted for exercising their right to freedom of expression, including journalists, activists, artists, and musicians.
Journalists in Pakistan suffer from one of the worst cycles of violence and impunity in the world, according to CPJ research. Journalists there are targeted not only by militants, criminals, and warlords, but also by political, military, and intelligence operatives. Over the last decade, at least 24 journalists were targeted and murdered for their work, with the most recent victim, crime reporter Ayub Khattak, shot dead outside his home just last month. Not a single perpetrator has been convicted for any of these cases, earning Pakistan the eighth spot on CPJ's 2013 Impunity Index, which spotlights countries where journalists are murdered regularly and killers go free. Prosecutors working on some of these cases have been threatened, while several witnesses and investigators have been slain.
There is an opportunity to change this pattern. Pakistan is one of the focus countries for the implementation strategy of the UN Plan of Action for the Safety of Journalists and Issue of Impunity, which was launched early this year. Under this effort, media, civil society, and representatives from international organizations came together in Pakistan to propose measures to improve safety and combat impunity in Pakistan, including the formation of the Steering Committee of Pakistan's National Coalition on Media Safety.
Pakistan's federal minister for information and broadcasting, Pervaiz Rasheed, attended a Steering Committee meeting on October 8, in which he stated the government's support for the UN Plan of Action. He also expressed approval for the appointment of a special prosecutor to investigate attacks against journalists.
A strong statement by your office on the International Day to End Impunity will go far in affirming that your administration has the political will to see these commitments through.
We hope you will join us and the many voices around the world on November 23 in taking a stand for justice.
For the Urdu version of this letter, please click here.