- May 21, 2006
- Reaction score
Media Watchdog fears Imran Riaz may even have died in detention
May 27, 2023
MM News Staff
Reporters Without Borders (RSF) fears for missing TV anchor Imran Riaz’s life and calls on Pakistan’s civilian government to ensure respect for the rule of law by immediately revealing where and in what conditions he is being held.
RSF will hold the government responsible for any harm that may have come to him.
Imran Riaz Khan was taken into custody on May 11 from the airport at Sialkot, an industrial city in the Punjab province, as he tried to leave the country over fears of his arrest, according to family members and attorneys. But police have said they no longer have the reporter in custody.
The 47-year-old reporter was among thousands of people detained earlier this month during a nationwide crackdown on supporters of the opposition Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf, or PTI, party and its leader, popular former Prime Minister Imran Khan.
Daniel Bastard of the France-based global watchdog Reporters Without Borders, or RSF, said in a statement Tuesday it had received information from “confidential diplomatic sources” that the missing journalist was tortured and “may even have died in detention.”
RSF has seen the transcript of the hearing. What the Punjab police inspector general told the court was a clear acknowledgement of state responsibility. “We have asked police across Pakistan,” the inspector general said. “No one has Imran Riaz (…) Imran Riaz Khan was not wanted by us. However, ‘agencies’ had asked for a police van. Why they had asked for a police van, [the court] can summon the agencies and ask.”
“There is no point closing one’s eyes to the ‘agencies’ euphemism. It was clearly Pakistan’s military intelligence agencies that abducted Imran Riaz Khan. It is up to Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif’s civilian government to ensure respect for the rule of law by producing the journalist in court or ordering his release. Failing this, the Pakistani authorities will be held directly responsible for any harm that may have befallen him,” Daniel Bastard said.
According to confidential diplomatic sources consulted by RSF, the government’s silence about the TV anchor’s fate suggests that he may have fared badly since his abduction and may even have died in detention.
Amnesty International said in a separate statement the case of the missing journalist “constitutes an enforced disappearance under international human rights law.” It demanded Imran Riaz Khan be immediately released.
The watchdog lamented that enforced disappearance had been a “worrying trend” in Pakistan for many years and is used to punish “dissenting voices.”