An independent think-tank

Human rights reporting in Pakistani media

Pakistan’s Urdu and English print and electronic media understand and present human rights issues in a variety of ways. The manner in which newspapers, magazines and television channels portray human rights issues and defenders, and victims of violations and abuse shapes people’s opinion. It also affects policymaking and legislation. This study intends to determine how journalists and media organizations view and report human rights issues in Pakistan. Conversely, an effort has also been made to investigate how the people, human rights organizations and activists see the role of the media’s coverage of human rights issues.
The  study  also  aims  to  explore  journalists’  capacity  for  well-informed,  investigative  and  rights-based journalism.  Meanwhile,  public  perceptions  of  human  rights  issues  have  been  studied  with  a  special reference  to  the  impact  of  contemporary  media  reporting  approaches.  These  approaches  have  been documented  and  analyzed,  especially  journalists’  attitude  towards  victims,  treatment  of  human  rights issues as well as the patterns and quality of reporting. An analysis of the opinions and content has also been included with excerpts from news items, reports, editorials and debates to better comprehend the media coverage. The environment for reporting on human rights issues was also studied to comprehend the  threats  and  pressures  which  limit  journalists’  capacity  for  investigation  and  reporting.  Another objective was to evaluate the role of the media and the mindset of journalists to improve and fill the gaps in human rights reporting.
There is no dearth of literature and reports on human rights issues in Pakistan. A great deal of statistical and  narrative  data  is  also  available  on  the  subject.  Human  rights  violations  in  Pakistan,  including violations of rights  of women and children, arbitrary detentions, enforced disappearances, harassment of families of the disappeared, excessive use of force by state agents and unlawful killings are regularly monitored, highlighted and protested against by a number of human rights organizations in the country and abroad – the prominent ones include Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch, Asian Human Rights  Commission,  Human  Rights  Commission  of  Pakistan,  Defense  of  Human  Rights  and  Aurat Foundation. These and other human rights organizations are engaged in raising awareness about human rights  and  lobby  whenever  any  important  case  arises.  They  also  produce  and  disseminate  reports  on human rights issues, which are reproduced and discussed in Pakistani print and electronic media.
Media  organizations  are  another  source  of  information,  analysis  and  reports  on  human  rights  in Pakistan.  Rights  issues have become a regular feature of the electronic  media as well. Be they cases of enforced  disappearances  and  illegal  detentions  or  curbs  on  rights  after  promulgation  of  the  state  of emergency, Pakistani media has played a key role in keeping human rights in the limelight.

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