8 February 2012 The head of the United Nations agency in charge of defending press freedom today condemned the recent death of a Pakistani journalist and called for measures to improve security conditions for reporters in the Asian country.
Mukarram Khan Aatif was killed on 17 January while praying in a mosque in Peshawar. He had been a correspondent for the private television channel Dunya News and also worked for Deewa Radio, a Pashto-language station.
Mr. Aatif had previously been forced to move his family because of death threats he and his family had received from militant groups operating in his home region, Mohmand.
In a statement, Irina Bokova, Director-General of the Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), said it was “essential for democracy and the rule of law that the authorities investigate this crime and bring the perpetrators to justice.
“I appeal to the authorities so this crime does not go unpunished. This would be an important step towards improving the security of journalists working in Pakistan.”
Twenty-two journalists have been killed in Pakistan since 2002, according to UNESCO figures. In a news release, the agency noted that it is working to improve their working conditions by regularly organizing activities in Pakistan to raise awareness of the importance of freedom of expression and freedom of the press.
In 2010, UNESCO set up training for journalists reporting in the country’s Federally Administered Tribal Areas, with the focus on reporting in dangerous areas, security, and journalistic ethics. Last year, the agency organized workshops to reinforce the skills of more than 330 radio and press journalists who work in small cities and rural zones.
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