The Joint Action Committee (JAC) of the media bodies has taken a tough stance against the government after the amendments in the Pakistan Electronic Crime Act (PECA) 2016, calling the government’s engagement with the media bodies over media laws a “farce”.
In a statement by the JAC, comprising All Pakistan Newspapers Society (APNS), Council of Pakistan Newspaper Editors (CPNE), Pakistan Federal Union of Journalists (PFUJ), Pakistan Broadcasters Association (PBA) and Association of Electronic Media Editors and News Directors (AEMEND), said the dialogue with the government over the legislation regarding media was being suspended “until the draconian amendments to the Prevention of Electronic Crimes Act (PECA) are reversed”.
“The information minister [Fawad Chaudhry] is toying with the media fraternity in the guise of engagement and keeps passing ordinances against freedom of speech while giving the impression that media fraternity is being engaged,” the statement said.
It added that, “There is a grave trail of examples after an example where the ministry of information is tampering with freedom of speech, muzzling the journalists right to report, financially crippling media to influence journalism.”
According to the statement, “The fraternity had warned of this before and appealed to the PM previously as well that a dangerous trend had been emerging which is creating a distance between the government and the public as well as the media workers.”
All media bodies stand united to defend freedom of expression and people’s right to information, it added.
Earlier, APNS, CPNE, PFUJ, PBA, and AEMEND, rejected the “draconian” amendments to the Prevention of Electronic Crimes Act (PECA), 2016, saying it was a blatant move to stifle media independence, freedom of speech, and dissenting voices.
Separately, the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP) disapproved the amendments in the PECA and demanded immediate withdrawal of the ordinance. It had said that criticism of the proposed legislation has been declared non-bailable, which is undemocratic.