The Director-General of UNESCO, Irina Bokova, today condemned the murder of Pakistani journalist Mukarram Khan Aatif on 17 January and called for measures to improve the safety of reporters in the country.
“I condemn the murder of Mukarram Khan Aatif,” the Director-General said. “It is essential for democracy and rule of law that the authorities investigate this crime and bring its perpetrators to justice. I call on the authorities to ensure that this killing is punished as an important step in improving the safety of journalists working in Pakistan.”
Mukarram Khan Aatif was murdered while praying in a mosque in Peshawar, in Pakistan. According to the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ), he was a correspondent for privately owned TV station Dunya News and also worked for the Pashto-language channel Deewa Radio.
Aatif had previously been forced to relocate his family to Charsadda district due to death threats which he and his family had received from militant group in his home region of Mohmand.
Twenty-seven killed in Pakistan since 2002 are remembered on UNESCO’s dedicated webpage. UNESCO regularly conducts activities in the country to raise awareness on the importance of freedom of expression and press freedom and to help improve the safety of journalists and media workers.
In 2010, UNESCO provided training to journalists in the Federally Administered Tribal Areas of Pakistan focusing on conflict reporting skills, ethical reporting standards, as well as safety and security of media workers in conflict zones. In 2011, UNESCO conducted capacity building workshops for over 330 radio and newspaper journalists in the smaller towns and rural areas of Pakistan to enhance the quality of reporting and news production.
Media contact: Sylvie Coudray, +33 (0)1 45 68 42 12, s.coudray(at)unesco.org
UNESCO is the United Nations agency with a mandate to defend freedom of expression and press freedom. Article 1 of its Constitution requires the Organization to “further universal respect for justice, for the rule of law and for the human rights and fundamental freedoms which are affirmed for the peoples of the world, without distinction of race, sex, language or religion, by the Charter of the United Nations.” To realize this the Organization is requested to “collaborate in the work of advancing the mutual knowledge and understanding of peoples, through all means of mass communication and to that end recommend such international agreements as may be necessary to promote the free flow of ideas by word and image…”