HRCP decries curbs on media freedom

Expresses concerns over report of summary trial of PTI workers in military courts

News Desk October 12, 2023
The Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP) logo. PHOTO: FILE


The Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP) has deplored alleged “co-option of the media”. It has claimed that powers that be are compelling media houses to broadcast interviews of the PTI politicians, who went missing after May 9 riots and, on being recovered, disassociated publicly from their party.

“Such authoritarian tactics are an affront to democracy and people’s right to freedom of expression, opinion and association and, unless the state is not careful, will set new and dangerous precedents for who is allowed to say what and when,” the rights body said in a statement on Wednesday.

The HRCP said it was also dismayed by reports that, despite the attorney general’s assurances to the Supreme Court in June that military courts would not hold summary trials, civilians were now being tried in these very courts, in violation of their right to a fair and transparent trial under Article 10-A.

“The state should be aware that, in the long term, the cost of deliberately decimating one political party because it has fallen out of favour is democracy itself and all its attendant fundamental rights,” it added.

On May 9, violent protesters vandalized state and army properties in the wake of PTI chief Imran Khan’s arrest from the premises of a court. The country’s civil and military leadership later decided to hold trial of dozens of the attackers in military courts under the Pakistan Army Act, 1952.

The term "co-option of the media" refers to a situation in which individuals, groups, or organizations exert influence or control over media outlets and their content to serve their own interests or agendas.



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