International media freedom watchdogs are urging Pakistani authorities to ensure that the killing of a journalist whose body was found in an irrigation waterway does not go unpunished.
Aziz Memon’s body was found with wire tied around the neck on February 16 near his hometown of Mehrabpur, in the southwestern province of Sindh. The initial investigation suggested he was strangled to death before his body was thrown into the canal.
In a statement on February 17, the New York-based Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) said the “murder…deserves swift justice, which is something Pakistani authorities have repeatedly failed to deliver for journalists.”
A reporter for KTN TV and the newspaper Kawish, which are owned by Pakistan’s largest Sindhi-language media group, Memon is the first Pakistani journalist to be killed this year, according to Reporters Without Borders (RSF). It said four Pakistani journalists and a blogger were killed last year in connection with their reporting.
Memon was last seen when he set off on February 15 to do some reporting in the nearby locality of Behlani.
The Paris-based RSF quoted fellow journalist Akhlaiq Jokhiyo as saying that both he and Memon’s wife believed he was targeted in connection with his reporting.
Months ago, Memon released a video message saying he was receiving threats for his coverage of a news story.
The threats seem to have been triggered by his coverage of the so-called Train March, a campaign of protests and rallies organized nearly a year ago by the opposition Pakistan Peoples’ Party, according to RSF.
Daniel Bastard, the head of RSF’s Asia-Pacific desk, urged Sindh Chief Minister Syed Murad Ali Shah to do “everything possible” to ensure that those responsible for the killing are brought to justice.
Meanwhile, the federal government and parliament should “quickly finalize a law protecting journalists and combatting impunity, in order to rein in the spiral of violence against media personnel,” Bastard said.
“Given the victim’s previous allegations of threats from local officials, it is essential that the investigation be free from political meddling,” said CPJ Asia Program Coordinator Steven Butler.
Pakistan ranked 8th on CPJ’s 2019 Global Impunity Index, with 16 unsolved killings of journalists in the past 10 years.
Of the 34 journalists who were murdered for their work since 1992, partial justice has been achieved in only three cases, according to the watchdog.
With reporting by RFE/RL's Radio Mashaal