Preserving the integrity of a crime scene is critical to the investigation of all crimes. In terrorism incidents, even high-profile cases have been lost in court in Pakistan due to inadequate preservation of the crime scene. As some of the earliest arrivals at the scene of a terrorist incident, media personnel are at a high risk for contaminating the crime scene and being exposed to hazards. Currently, there are no officially mandated policies on crime scene management which are effectively enforced.
In this context, RSIL in collaboration with the UNODC, conducted research on best practices that should be followed by media crews and reporters at terrorism crime scenes and guidelines for police-media cooperation in the aftermath of an attack.
Our team organized and hosted a policy dialogue with members of the media and criminal justice actors in Peshawar, Pakistan. The day-long event was attended multiple stakeholders including officials from various print and electronic media houses, police officials, representatives from the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Prosecution Department and the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Judicial Academy.
To facilitate this policy dialogue, the RSIL team had drafted the guidelines for media personnel which covered focused on crime scene management, Police-Media cooperation and guidelines for coverage of terrorism incidents. The draft guidelines served as the baseline for intensive discussions during the policy dialogue and the final draft was unanimously approved by the participants.
18th December 2018, Peshawar:
The Research Society of International Law (RSIL) in collaboration with the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), held a policy dialogue for improving media responses to terrorist incidents. The policy dialogue included participants from various print and electronic media houses, police officials, representatives from the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Prosecution Department and the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Judicial Academy.
The event started with a lecture delivered by Former Law and Justice Minister, Mr. Ahmer Bilal Soofi, President RSIL Pakistan, on the legal aspects of media coverage in terrorism. Mr. Tariq Iqbal, Director of the Police School of Investigation provided the police perspective in these scenarios.
The presentations were followed by an extensive policy dialogue moderated by Mr. Rahimullah Yusufzai, Resident Editor, the NEWS International, Peshawar. The discussion was based on draft guidelines developed by RSIL for media personnel on reporting terrorism incidents. The topics of discussion included the preservation of the integrity of a crime scene, police media cooperation in the aftermath of a terrorist incident, live coverage of terrorist incidents as well as coverage of the trial process. The dialogue offered a platform for discussion on practical hurdles that the media and police face during these incidents and how these issues affect the trial process. The suggested improvements and solutions by all the participants were included in the finalised guidelines.
RSIL successfully conducted a policy dialogue on ‘Improving Media Responses to Terrorist Incidents’ in Peshawar. A comprehensive guideline for media personnel was developed by the RSIL team following a discussion with the diverse group of participants.
Muhammad Arif, Peshawar, Ab Tak News