PPF welcomes the return of Bol News President Sami Abraham after six days; calls for accountability to tackle the culture of impunity in crimes against media
Pakistan Press Foundation (PPF) welcomes the return of journalist and Bol News President Sami Abraham six days after he was allegedly abducted from Pakistan’s capital city of Islamabad. While Abraham’s return is a welcome step, questions remain about his abduction. Authorities must ensure that accountability in such incidents is ensured to tackle the culture of impunity that surrounds crimes against the media.
On May 24, Abraham was picked up by unidentified persons in Islamabad, Dawn reported.
An application submitted by Abraham’s brother Ali Raza, on the same day stated that on his way back from the office around 9 pm, the media person was abducted by 8-10 plainclothes, unidentified men in four cars from the service lane of Seventh Road in the capital’s Sector G-6. As per the application, Abraham’s driver was left behind. However, the media person’s belongings, including three mobile phones and a bag, were taken. Abraham’s driver’s phone was also taken.
It is concerning that his electronic devices were taken. Under the Protection of Journalists and Media Professionals Bill, 2021, a journalist is guaranteed a right to privacy.
Raza told PPF that on May 25, he filed a writ petition in the Islamabad High Court, as a result of which IHC Chief Justice Aamer Farooq had issued notices summoning Aabpara Police Station House Officer (SHO), Federal Investigation Agency Director General, Inspector General of Police Islamabad and the Deputy Commissioner regarding the whereabouts of the media person.
The Rawalpindi Islamabad Union of Journalists had strongly condemned Abraham’s disappearance and demanded that the government recover him at the earliest.
In a statement, Pakistan Federal Union of Journalists (PFUJ) President Afzal Butt and Secretary General Arshad Ansari expressed serious concern over the incident and condemned it.
On May 25, a First Information Report (FIR) was registered. According to Raza, the chief judge summoned Aabpara Police Station SHO Khalid Javed and directed him to register the criminal complaint and asked the interior ministry secretary and FIA DIG to produce Abraham in court.
As per Raza, the two officials told the court that they required two days to collect data and CCTV footage from the area of Abraham’s abduction as he was not in the FIA’s custody or at any police station in Islamabad.
Abraham’s legal counsel Raja Amir Abbas said that he had requested the IHC chief justice to trace all three of Abraham’s mobile phones, which the alleged abductors took with them, and to investigate all four provinces regarding whether any case was registered against the media person. Justice Farooq directed SSP Masood Ahmed to investigate and interrogate all the police stations from all the provinces and submit the report on May 29, the next date for court proceedings.
On May 30, Abraham’s return was reported.