ISLAMABAD: Pakistan’s judges are using contempt of court laws to stop the media from criticising the judiciary, Human Rights Watch said Tuesday, warning they risked being seen as “instruments of coercion and censorship”.
High courts in Islamabad and Lahore have issued a series of orders in recent months seeking to block television shows critical of judges, the New York-based campaign group said.
Last month a judge in Islamabad ordered the Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority (PEMRA) to stop television channels broadcasting programmes in which the “person of the honourable chief justice of Pakistan and other honourable judges of the superior court are criticised, ridiculed, and defamed,” HRW said.
Brad Adams, Asia director at HRW, said judges should not enjoy special immunity from criticism.
“Unless they want to be seen as instruments of coercion and censorship, they should immediately revoke these curbs on free expression,” he said.
“Pakistan’s judges have demonstrated the independence to hold the government accountable,” Adams said.
“But their credibility will be lost so long as they fight against scrutiny and accountability of the judiciary itself.”