CJA demands to lift the restrictions placed on journalist Almeida

The Commonwealth Journalists Association has registered its serious concern at the news from Pakistan that Cyril Almeida, Deputy Editor of the DAWN newspaper of Karachi, has been summoned before the Lahore High Court on a non-bailable arrest warrant in connection with treason charges brought against the country’s former Prime Minister, Nawaz Sharif. The treason charges were brought as a result of an interview Cyril Almeida conducted with the former prime minister in May this year in which he suggested that ‘people from Pakistan’ may have been involved in a major terrorist attack on the city of Mumbai in 2008.
The CJA deplores the heavy-handed use of the law to silence a respected journalist who was only doing his job in interviewing the former prime minister. This action has had a chilling effect on the country’s media and has given rise to widespread protests by organisations representing owners, editors and journalists. It is being widely seen as a warning to all media outlets in the country not to criticise the recently elected government of Prime Minister Imran Khan or the country’s powerful military establishment.
The CJA calls on the Lahore High Court to lift the restrictions placed on Mr Almeida and to allow him bail. It also calls on the Government of Pakistan to make plain its commitment to Freedom of Expression, which is guaranteed by the country’s constitution, and is a key element of the Commonwealth Charter to which Pakistan and other Commonwealth countries have subscribed.
A free press is essential for a thriving and accountable democracy and as Pakistan begins a new chapter in its history, the CJA urges the Government to respect the role of the fourth estate as a vital intermediary between the Government and the Electorate.
Source: CJA UKcja

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