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Lawyers assault journalists in Lahore

(PPF/IFEX) - On 2 October 2010, lawyers from the Lahore Bar Association (LBA) beat Geo News reporter Ahmed Faraz, Geo News cameraman Hanan Younis and City-42 TV cameraman Maqsood Ahmed Butt at the court premises in Lahore, the capital city of Punjab province. The lawyers also prevented journalists from carrying out their professional duties.

According to press reports, the lawyers staged a demonstration against police to condemn the 1 October arrest of lawyers who had attacked the office of the chief justice of the Punjab High Court. When media teams went to cover the protest, a group of lawyers attacked the journalists, alleging that the media were portraying a negative image of lawyers.

Faraz told PPF that lawyers stopped them from covering the event, used abusive language against the journalists and slapped Faraz and Butt. They also snatched and smashed cameras from Butt and Younis.

Sarmad Bashir, president of the Lahore Press Club, told PPF that after the incident journalists boycotted coverage of the lawyers' events. Journalists also staged a protest demonstration and demanded serious action against the lawyers responsible for the attack. He said journalists obtained footage of the lawyers attacking the journalists.

The Council of Pakistan Newspaper Editors (CPNE) strongly condemned the attacks. CPNE President Khushnood Ali Khan and Secretary General Aamer Mahmood demanded an impartial and free investigation into the incident. The CPNE appealed to the chief justice of Pakistan to take notice of the issue and called on senior lawyers to ensure such incidents are not repeated in future.

The Pakistan Federal Union of Journalists (PFUJ) expressed shock and dismay over the intolerance displayed by the lawyers in Lahore. Terming the incident a direct attack on independence of the media, the PFUJ lamented the fact that assaults on media personnel by lawyers during coverage of news have become a routine matter. It said this was the seventh incident in which lawyers have assaulted media personnel.

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