Courts in Pakistan muzzling critics in media: HRW

Published: November 27, 2012
Judges should not enjoy special immunity from criticism, says Brad Adams, Asia director at HRW. DESIGN: SUNARA NIZAMI

Judges should not enjoy special immunity from criticism, says Brad Adams, Asia director at HRW. DESIGN: SUNARA NIZAMI

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.”

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Reader Comments (12)

  • RKM
    Nov 27, 2012 - 2:20PM

    Well said


  • Banned
    Nov 27, 2012 - 2:29PM

    HRW wants to let loose Abidi on the CJ again.


  • Haris Farooq Wattoo
    Nov 27, 2012 - 2:31PM

    Judges at present time are almost doing the same what Generals have done decades ago. I request them to please have mercy on this nation and do politics once you are retired from service.


  • Afzaal Khan
    Nov 27, 2012 - 3:16PM

    Unless HRW wants to stay irrelevent they better start understanding pakistani society


  • asim
    Nov 27, 2012 - 3:58PM

    HRW never asked the contribution of political leaders in national development; no water no gas , no electricity…HRW silence on these violations?


  • choptocut
    Nov 27, 2012 - 4:32PM

    In addition, there perks and privileges, pay scales, annual expenditures on their cars and houses, must all be transparent, same must be applied to Military Generals.


  • ZS
    Nov 27, 2012 - 5:20PM

    Will somebody please tell me why these super honorable judges have become so suomotoistic, egocentristic, and publicistic?


  • Pasha
    Nov 27, 2012 - 6:08PM

    HRW is subsidized by US state Dept. and. GeorgeSoro. Should we now believe that US doesn’t like SC?


  • Uza Syed
    Nov 27, 2012 - 6:40PM

    @Pasha: Yes they have lost credibility in my eyes. May they go in peace and rest there with or without it as soon as possible—–I don’t like the present populist bunch lead by that superman in the SC and I don’t care if US does or not.


  • Mirza
    Nov 27, 2012 - 7:53PM

    When it comes to civil elected officials the rightwing gives examples of Islamic justice and equality. However, when it comes to generals and judges they forget this equality and believe in the absolute power. With the dark history of judiciary in Pakistan from Justice Munir to Molvi Mushtaq to the PCO judges it is imp to have an open and honest discussion in the media. Generals and judges are not prophets and are mere humans with all the temptations and history. Let us not forget Gen Zia alone did not hang ZAB, the judges of LHC and SC did and none of them neither condemned their wrongdoings nor apologized to nation.


  • Iftikhar Khan
    Nov 27, 2012 - 10:18PM

    Courts are the weakest link in pakistan at the moment.


  • Khalq e Khuda
    Nov 28, 2012 - 1:23AM


    Are not people like you tired of lynching politicians? Politician is not a certified course or a designation, you are most welcome to become one and until you are too lazy to get off your behinds off the couch, kindly dont raise a finger at those that do take an initiative.

    These judges have made a mockery of the Constitution and more so off the civil liberties. They must go.


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