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Journalists attacked, mistreated by security personnel

(IFJ/IFEX) - November 2, 2010 - The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) joins its affiliate, the Pakistan Federal Union of Journalists (PFUJ), in condemning two recent instances of mistreatment of journalists by security personnel at the premises of public authorities. Also worrying have been increasing signs of impunity for attacks on media practitioners.

In the first instance, Faisal Shoukat Ali Rajput, the Karachi bureau chief of the Din TV channel, was detained and brutally assaulted while reporting on a fire at the city's international airport. Security officials of the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) were reportedly angered that he had obtained news footage of the airport's VIP lounge.

Rajput was illegally held for close to 20 hours and suffered relentless mistreatment, before being released on October 20 in a deserted part of Sindh province, according to the PFUJ.

A complaint was lodged under the relevant provisions of the law, and the PFUJ has since stepped up efforts to bring the officials to book.

In the second instance, a news team with the Dunya channel was reportedly assaulted by security guards of the Lahore Development Authority, allegedly at the behest of its director-general, on October 29.

The crew was attacked after it filmed guards dealing roughly with a former female employee of the authority, who was on the premises seeking redressal of a grievance, according to the PFUJ.

The news team was attacked and its camera was snatched and destroyed. Senior producer Taha Siddiqui suffered a broken rib.

The PFUJ reports local police refused to register their news crew's complaint.

"The IFJ is concerned at increasing reports of this kind of violence against journalists and media practitioners at the hands of officials employed by local authorities," IFJ Asia-Pacific Director Jacqueline Park said.

"Data provided by the PFUJ indicates that the October 29 incident is perhaps the thirteenth in Punjab province, where media persons have been assaulted to prevent them from recording and reporting incidents of broad public concern."

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