Pakistan court sentences 6 for murder of journalist

[JURIST] The Pakistani High Court of Sindh Karachi [official website] sentenced [Anadolu Agency report] six men on Saturday for the 2011 murder of prominent TV journalist Wali Khan Babar. The landmark ruling makes the first time in Pakistan's history that individuals have been tried and sentenced for the murder of a journalist. The two men receiving the death sentence were charged in absentia, and the remaining four were sentenced to life in prison. The defendants are associated with the Muttahida Quami Movement (MQM) [official website, in Urdu], a linguistic party that claims to support to 'realism and practicalism,' but the MQM denies any involvement. One of the men convicted in the case posted a confession to YouTube, claiming he was asked to follow Babar home from work by an activist from the Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM). According to Pakistan's Federal Union of Journalists (PFUJ) [official website], approximately 90 journalists have been killed in the last decade in different parts of Pakistan.

Protection of free expression remains a key concern for international human rights advocates and nations around the world. In January two former Serbian senior secret service members were arrested [JURIST report] under suspicion that they planned the 1999 killing of anti-government journalist Slavko Curuvija. The Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) [official website] published [JURIST report] a report [text] in December, finding Syria the most dangerous nation in the world for journalists, with Egypt and Iraq just behind. The CPJ's report found that of the estimated 70 journalists killed worldwide [CPJ database] in 2013, 29 were in Syria. Last September, two independent UN human rights experts stressed [JURIST report] the UK's obligation to ensure that investigative journalists are allowed protection from intimidation and punishment. In August, Human Rights Watch (HRW) [advocacy website] urged [JURIST report] the Philippine government to act in order to bring the killers of three local journalists to justice and stop further violence.

 

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