Pak media bodies condemn draconian ‘amendments’ to muzzle free speech

Pakistani media joint action committee comprising the Pakistan Broadcasters Association (PBA), All Pakistan Newspaper Society (APNS), Council of Pakistan Newspaper Editors (CPNE), Pakistan Federal Union of Journalists (PFUJ), the Electronic Media Editors and the News Directors (EMAND) in a joint statement vehemently opposed the amendments to the Prevention of Electronic Crimes Act (PECA) .

Pakistani media bodies said in their joint statement that the government had ignored proposals made by the stakeholders and had issued a Presidential ordinance to suppress critical and constructive voices. The Action Committee of Pakistani Journalists’ Associations said that any amendment, law or ordinance which seeks to suppress freedom of expression will be strongly opposed at every forum. They said that the Joint Action Committee comprising of journalist organisations would fight against it to ensure the protection of freedom of press and promotion of freedom of expression.

It should be remembered that the government of Pakistan who issued a Prevention of Electronic Crime Act (PECA) Amendment Ordinance with exemption granted to PEMRA licensed tv channels has been abolished. Under the ordinance, criticism became a crime and the crime would be non-bailable, with police arrests and custody and it would take 6 months to decide the trial.

The trial court will submit the details of the case to the High Court every month and if someone is found guilty of ‘knowingly’ spreading fake news, false information, damaging a person’s reputation or personal life then the maximum sentence would be for five years with a fine of rupees ten lakh.

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