Two journalists tortured for allegedly covering quarantine center in Balochistan

Reporters Without Borders (RSF) called on the provincial authorities to order a judicial investigation

Two journalists were tortured for covering a quarantine center in Balochistan, near the Afghan border.

Saeed Ali Achakzai, a journalist for Samaa News TV, and Abdul Mateen Achakzai, a journalist for Khyber News TV,  finally reappeared on the morning of the 23rd of June with their bodies covered with torture marks. They were found four days after being called to the Frontier Corps command center in Chaman, a city near the Afghan border, on 20th June.

Saeed Ali Achakzai and Abdul Mateen Achakzai.

“We were blindfolded and taken to a place where we were handed over to the Anti-Terrorism Force (ATF) that is operated by the Balochistan Levies. They took us to the infamous Machh prison and tortured us there to the point that you can see the marks on our backs,” said Abdul Mateen Achakzai.

Achakzai adds that they were getting threatening messages a few days ago because the paramilitary force commanders and deputy commissioner was unhappy with their coverage of a public protest against the inadequate facilities at the quarantine center.

Reporters Without Borders (RSF), an international NGO that safeguards the right to freedom of information, called on the provincial authorities to order a judicial investigation to identify who was responsible and to bring the oppressors to justice.

Daniel Bastard, the head of RSF’s Asia-Pacific desk, also condemned the incident, saying: “We call on Balochistan chief minister Jam Kamal Khan to order a judicial inquiry into those responsible for their abduction so that this shocking press freedom violation does not remain unpunished.”

In response, Pakistani authorities said that they had launched an investigation regarding the “brutal incident”.

Balochistan’s home minister Ziaullah Langove said, “Three officials who were directly involved in the incident have been suspended.” He also added that the original case against the journalists had been dropped.

Pakistan is ranked 145th out of 180 countries and territories in RSF’s 2020 World Press Freedom Index, three places lower than in 2019.

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