Media bodies concerned over FIA’s bid to invoke ‘black law’

Govt withdrew plea hours after FIA challenged IHC verdict on Section 20 of PECA Act in Supreme Court

News Desk May 08, 2022

The Media Joint Action Committee has shown serious concern on FIA's petition filed before the Supreme Court, challenging Section 20 of the infamous Prevention of Electronic Crimes Act (PECA) Act 2016 against the stated policy of the incumbent government.

The committee – comprising Council of Pakistan Newspaper Editors (CPNE), Pakistan Broadcasters Association (PBA), All Pakistan Newspapers Society (APNS), Pakistan Federal Union of Journalists (PFUJ), and Association of Electronic Media Editors and News Directors (AEMEND) – in a statement issued late Saturday termed the move an attempt to once again invoke the "black law", which was put to rest by the Islamabad High Court (IHC) last month.

The committee was given personal assurances from the then leading members of the opposition – Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) President Shahbaz Sharif, Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) Chairman Bilawal Bhutto Zardari, Muttahida Qaumi Movement-Pakistan (MQM-P) Convener Khalid Maqbool Siddiqui and Jamaat-e-Islami Pakistan Ameer Siraj ul Haq – that the ‘draconian law’ was not acceptable. 

Also read: Backlash ‘forces govt to U-turn’ on PECA plea

While rejecting the amendments in PECA law, Federal Minister for Information Marriyam Aurangzeb had assured the JAC that the government will review the original PECA Act after holding deliberations with all stakeholders.

The joint media action committee once again sought fulfilment of the assurances previously given by the coalition government. “Prime Minister Shahbaz Sharif has been asked to personally intervene and see this matter through and ask the concerned to hold discussions with the JAC to address the gaping holes in the PECA Act 2016. The Joint Action Committee believes that any failure to do so would only lead to fingers being directed against the credibility of this government's commitment to freedom of speech,” read the statement.

The Joint Action Committee appreciated the information minister’s statement that FIA had filed the petition without the government’s knowledge and that it was being withdrawn. The JAC has also noted the statement of FIA. However, the committee demanded that a thorough investigation must be initiated to find out how FIA filed the petition without taking the relevant ministries into confidence.


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