ISLAMABAD: The Pakistan Federal Union of Journalists (PFUJ) on Friday announced that it would observe a ‘Black Day’ on February 28 (Monday) in protest against the Pakistan Electronic Crimes Act (PECA) Ordinance 2022, deeming it a “draconian law” intended to restrain media freedom and stifle dissent.
In a statement, PFUJ President Shahzada Zulfiqar and Secretary-General Nasir Zaidi said, “The journalist body had never and will never accept such ordinances.” They vowed to protest against it at every forum.
The leaders appealed to all unions of journalists to stage a protest and hoist black flags on press clubs on Monday to mark black day.
The PFUJ also instructed all journalists to hold demonstrations in front of their respective press clubs and public spaces “to register their protest against this draconian ordinance, designed to shrink space for voices of dissent and freedom of speech and expression”.
The PFUJ leaders said that a protest would be held in front of parliament within the coming weeks for which arrangements were being made.
A day earlier, Islamabad High Court Chief Justice Athar Minallah described the PECA Ordinance 2022 as “oppressive and draconian”.
The court also extended its order to refrain the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) from directly arresting anyone without the complete implementation of its standard operating procedures (SOPs) till March 10 – the next date of hearing.
Justice Minallah was hearing the pleas clubbed together against the new ordinance.
“It is being said with regret that the proceedings [under PECA] were initiated against those individuals who criticized the government.”
Justice Minallah noted that it did not appear as if this was happening in a democratic country.