Friday Oct 02, 2020
The Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP) on Friday said it takes "serious exception" to the ban by Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority (PEMRA) on the broadcast of interviews and public addresses by "proclaimed offenders and absconders" on television.
According to a statement by the human rights body, the move "violates not only citizens’ right to freedom of expression under Article 19 of the Constitution, but also impinges on people’s right to know".
It said that such orders are a reflection of "arbitrary censorship", with the very same people who advocate it "when it favours them" and "abandon it" when it does not.
The statement observed that the order was passed "closely on the heels of a speech by political opposition leader Mian Nawaz Sharif" in which he had questioned "the legitimacy of the 2018 elections".
It said that this shows PEMRA is "little more than a tool of political convenience" as opposed to being an objective, independent regulatory body.
"It is worth recalling that PEMRA did not deny airtime to former President Pervez Musharraf, who is also a proclaimed offender," HRCP added.
The human rights body said that it has "consistently pointed to the growing censorship in Pakistan, even as the government claims that the press has never been more free".
"We demand that this order be withdrawn immediately and that the government refrain from weaponizing censorship in this blatant manner," it concluded by saying.