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UAE: IFJ condemns censorship pact as Dubai takes Pakistani media off the air

BBC Monitoring

text of press release by International Federation of Journalists on 18 November

The International Federation of Journalists today condemned the actions of the Dubai government which has shut down Pakistani media forced to operate from the United Arab Emirates after they were closed by the Pakistan government as part of the emergency crackdown imposed by President Pervez Musharraf.

The Dubai offices of Pakistan's independent Geo TV station were shut down by a telephone call from the government of the United Arab Emirates under heavy pressure from the Pakistan, said the group's executive director on Saturday.

The IFJ says that the political leadership in Dubai has bowed to pressure from the Musharraf government in a "censorship pact" that has allowed Pakistan to reach outside its borders to stifle independent media.

"This is a shocking and craven act of further censorship," said Aidan White, IFJ General Secretary. "Not only does it show that the Pakistan government are prepared to go to extraordinary lengths to censor journalis! ts, it reveals the weak attachment to press freedom within Dubai itself."

The IFJ is asking its affiliates in the United Arab Emirates to investigate the action of the authorities and is seeking to get the issued raised at a meeting of European Union foreign ministers in Brussels this week.

Geo TV, one of Pakistan's most popular independent TV stations, has broadcast from Dubai since 2002 precisely to avoid the periodic crackdowns on media, such as the one just instituted by President Musharraf when he declared martial law on November 3. It can now only operate through its internet site. Its closure in Pakistan sparked widespread protest across the country.

The network, like many other international satellite operations, has broadcast from Dubai's Media City complex believing it was safe from persecution. The complex was built in effort to turn Dubai into a regional media hub.

The IFJ and the Pakistan journalists' group the Pakistan Federal Union of ! Journalists are vigorously campaigning for the lifting of directives t hat have imposed censorship and control of new organization in Pakistan since November 4th. An IFJ regional mission will visit Pakistan this week.

Source: International Federation of Journalists press release, Brussels, in English 18 Nov 07


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