February 20, 2022: Pakistan Federal Union of Journalists (PFUJ) has expressed serious concerns over the reported approval of the cabinet for making amendments to the Pakistan Electronic Crimes Act (PECA) 2016 and issuing an ordinance with the draconian amendments.
In a joint statement, President of PFUJ Shahzada Zulfiqar and Secretary General Nasir Zaidi reminded that all the stakeholders, including the civil society and media fraternity, were already demanding the withdrawal of black clauses in the PECA 2016, which were against civil liberties and basic human rights ensured in the UN Charter and Constitution of Pakistan. “There are already provisions in the constitution of the country which protect the integrity and dignity of the judiciary and the armed forces,” they observed.
The PFUJ leadership said the court can use available laws to punish anyone involved in vilifying or defaming the institutions while an ordinary citizen can be prosecuted under the Defamation Act. There is, therefore, no need to amend PECA for enhancing punishments which is a clear case of mala fide, as amendments are designed to shrink the space for freedom of press and expression which have already been compromised in the country.
“If the government is determined to introduce such laws, people would then be forced to conclude that the PTI-led government wants to silence all the critical voices”, they added.
Both the leaders vowed to challenge this proposed ordinance in the court besides launching a countrywide protest against its issuance. “It is unwanted and a deplorable act of the current regime,” they argued.
They appealed to all the political parties and saner voices within PTI ranks to register their protest against this proposed ordinance and block it in the Parliament for saving the image of the country.