PECA rejected by Media: Pakistan

KARACHI:  AEMEND demanded the government immediately and unconditionally withdraw this illegal, unconstitutional, undemocratic and anti-media PECA Ordinance. The annual session reaffirmed its resolve to not only resist every black law, including the PECA Ordinance, which is against the freedom of expression but to also stand shoulder-to-shoulder with other media organisations, bar councils, human rights and civil rights organisations in this collective struggle, says a press release issued here.

AEMEND expressed serious concern about the overall situation of the freedom of expression in the country, stating it “understands that while it is not the responsibility of a single entity to address the problems faced by journalists in Pakistan like threats, persecution, pressures, propaganda, harassment of female journalists in particular and social media trolling, it is after all the responsibility of the government to ensure a free and safe environment for journalists to perform their duties without any pressure.”

AEMEND implored the managements of all media houses to take steps for the professional training and capacity-building of journalists by conducting special courses, assuring full cooperation in these initiatives. It also demanded that working, professional journalists be appointed as Editors, Directors and Head of News. This is not only beneficial for organisations and viewers but will also ensure checks and balances, implementation of the code of conduct and adherence to journalistic values.

AEMEND welcomed the establishment of a committee by the Pakistan Broadcasters Association (PBA) and All Pakistan Newspapers Society (APNS) to address the challenges faced by journalists and media workers, and hoped that concrete and positive steps will soon be taken in this regard, as this will greatly benefit the journalistic fraternity and workers, and mitigate the prevailing unrest and financial uncertainty in the community so that there can be better focus on broader issues.

APP adds from Islamabad: The Islamabad High Court (IHC), meanwhile, clubbed another petition against the PECA Ordinance with other identical petitions for hearing together and also served notices to the Attorney General for Pakistan to attend.

Reports said the latest petition was moved by the Pakistan Broadcasters Association (PBA) and other journalists’ bodies challenging the amendments in Prevention of Electronic Crime Act (PECA). Chief Justice Athar Minallah conducted the initial hearing and the court also noted that the petitioners had not challenged Section-20 of the PECA. The court observed that the other petitioners had also challenged the matter regarding criminalizing the defamation act. The petition had stated that the discussion and debates on the performance of public office holder was necessary to ensure good governance.

The petition pleaded the court to turn down the news ordinance as it was violating the Article-19 and 19 (A) of the Constitution. The court had served notices to the respondents and adjourned the case till March 10. The petition was jointly filed by the Pakistan Broadcasters Association (PBA), All Pakistan Newspapers Society, Council of Pakistan Newspapers Editors and AEMEND.

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