The Committee to Protect Journalists offers the following recommendations:
To the government of Pakistan:
- Move swiftly to revise and enact the draft journalist safety legislation that includes provisions for a special prosecutor to pursue crimes against press freedom. The special prosecutor must be given statutory authority to conduct investigations or to compel other law enforcement agencies to investigate these crimes.
- Ensure that the journalist safety legislation creates a legal and regulatory framework that allows investigators to pursue those behind crimes against journalists, even when state-related actors may be involved, including those in the military or intelligence.
- Prioritize the investigations into 30 journalist murders carried out with complete impunity, and bring all those responsible for ordering and carrying out the murders to justice.
- Halt the use of the Pakistan Protection Ordinance under which journalists can be imprisoned for up to 90 days without charges for their reporting.
- Cease the practice of placing journalists on the Exit Control List over their reporting.
- Publicly disclose the findings of all official inquiries into attacks on journalists and investigations into matters involving press freedom, including the inquiries into the attack on Hamid Mir and the “Dawn Leaks” case.
- Ensure all news media are allowed access to regions such as Baluchistan and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, and that security forces do not harass or impose restrictions on journalists working in those areas.
- Enforce laws and regulations that guarantee access to electronic and print news and take legal action against those who disrupt news distribution.
To Pakistan’s news media owners and editors:
- Expand and strengthen security training and protocols across the profession. Provide physical and digital safety training to journalists working at news organizations of all sizes, including assigning editors and freelancers.
- Develop independent self-regulatory measures aimed at bolstering confidence in media accuracy and fairness, including a transparent complaints procedure.
- Speak with a unified voice in condemning and seeking action in response to attacks, threats, and intimidation of the news media. Consider drafting and promoting professional guidelines to assist journalists and news organizations confronting issues of security and ethics.