CPJ urges government to fulfill promise by releasing records

January 18, 2007

Minister for Interior Aftab Ahmed Khan Sherpao
Room 404, 4th Floor, R-Block
Pak Secretariat, Islamabad

Secretary for Interior Syed Kamal Shah
Room 402, 4th Floor R-Block
Pak Secretariat, Islamabad

Via facsimile: 092-51-9202624

Dear Minister Sherpao and Secretary Shah:

The Committee to Protect Journalists is disturbed by the Interior Ministry’s failure to publicly produce investigative records as promised in regard to the deaths of eight journalists and to attacks and detentions involving more than 50 others in Pakistan since 2002.

You made this pledge on behalf of your government in a July 26, 2006, meeting with a three-person delegation representing CPJ. “We will follow up these cases and report to CPJ and the PFUJ [Pakistan Federal Union of Journalists]. We will report on the cases’ current status and what needs to be done to take the steps to finalize them,” Secretary Shah vowed at that meeting. That promise remains unfulfilled, and it appears to underscore an unwillingness or inability on the part of the government to bring to justice those who kill or attack journalists.

Since our meeting six months ago, CPJ research shows, at least one journalist has been killed and five others attacked or detained with no public announcement of even initial investigative findings. The silence of your government leaves Pakistani journalists in great jeopardy.

In the case of Hayatullah Khan, who was abducted in December 2005 and found shot to death on June 16, 2006, the investigative report of High Court Justice Mohammed Reza Khan has not been made public–though it was submitted to the government on August 18. On December 17, Information Minister Muhammad Ali Durrani told journalists that Justice Khan’s report would soon be made public. No public report has followed.

When our delegation met with you in July, we pointed out that seven Pakistani journalists had been killed since the death of American reporter Daniel Pearl in 2002. Only Pearl’s death was thoroughly investigated, the investigative findings publicly reported, and the perpetrators brought to trial.

Minister Sherpao and Secretary Shah, you agreed that such a record reflected poorly on your government’s concern for Pakistani journalists. Yet your government’s subsequent silence calls into question the sincerity of those remarks.

We call on the Interior Ministry to fulfill the promise it made to us and our Pakistani colleagues on July 26 by immediately revealing government information on slayings, detentions, and attacks involving journalists since 2002.


Joel Simon
Executive Director