CPNE releases Pakistan Media Freedom Report-2019 At-least seven journalists reportedly killed; 60 booked under ATA

cpneThough the Article 19 of the constitution of Pakistan and Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) guarantee freedom of expression and free media but media in Pakistan continued to be in chains or under strict form of physical intimidation like killings and self-censorship regime during 2019 like preceding years.
Despite the fact that there is a specific law on defamation but the government and other actors used Anti-Terrorism Act (ATA), Prevention of Electronic Crimes Act (PECA) and Pakistan Penal Codes (criminalization) sections against media practitioners in Pakistan. At-least 60 journalists were booked under Anti Terrorism Act 1997 in 35 cases which included 50 journalists from Sindh province alone.
It is revealed by the Council of Pakistan Newspaper Editors (CPNE) in its Pakistan Media Freedom Report 2019 issued here on Sunday. It has compilation of cases, number of victims and sequence of events made mockery of freedom of media and freedom of speech in the country. Reports also contained recommendations by Arif Nizami, President CPNE.
First ever conviction for possession of banned material was also made. Chaudhry Nasrullah, member Karachi Press Club was convicted for five years imprisonment with fine on allegations of possessing banned material by Anti-Terrorism Court in Karachi.
According to available data at-least seven journalists reportedly were murdered during the year 2019 while reports suggest at-least 15 journalists were injured during attacks in the line of duty.
The mysterious and unidentified actors (unknown) constituted the biggest threat to press freedom as it was in the previous year as well. The second biggest threats to the lives of journalists were non-state actors, outlawed terrorist and militant groups, who continued their attacks on journalists and media in previous year too, report mentioned.
The pathetic state of un-announced impunity for those who attack the media can be perceived from the fact that not a single killer or attacker of journalists and media persons was brought to justice.
Khyber Pakhtunkhwa while taking a lead introduced the first provincial law on Right to Information (RTI) followed by Punjab and Sindh respectively. The Federal Capital Islamabad adopted new legislation on RTI as well. However, in the province of Balochistan, RTI laws were remained a distant dream, report noted.
Pakistan Media Freedom Report 2019 further stated, it was claimed by government that cyber law- Prevention of Electronic Crimes Act (PECA) 2016 would deal with cyber-crimes and online harassment of women and, would not be used against journalists & media. But on the contrary the same law had been used against media freedom and freedom of expression in one way or other.
In an attempt what can be termed as a flagrant attempt to curb media freedom, the PTI government announced to form Special Tribunals (Media Courts) to tight its grip on media. But due to strong opposition by CPNE and other stake holders the government dropped the proposal.
Press Information Department in a move to introduce advertisement policy by federal government shared a draft of the proposed policy with various stakeholders including CPNE. According to media professionals, the advertisements are being used as tool to restrict media freedom and keeping this in view CPNE shared its feedback on the policy.
According to World Press Freedom Index, Pakistan ranked 142 out of 180 (comparison) countries, which gives the indication of how media in Pakistan was under threat. On the other side extreme fear and self-censorship continued haunting media freedom and free expression in the country, report observed.—PR
Source : Pakistan Observer

Similar Posts