Pakistan Parties Urged to Sign for Free Media

The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) fully supports its affiliate, the Pakistan Federal Union of Journalists (PFUJ), in calling for all political parties in Pakistan to sign a declaration that they will not support any move to pass anti-media laws after national elections on 8 January.

The PFUJ’s President, Huma Ali, and Secretary General, Mazhar Abbas, will meet the heads of all political parties to request they sign the declaration regarding their position on amendments to the Registration of Printing and Publication Ordinance, RPPO-2002, and the Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority, PEMRA-2002. The amendments, which severely restrict media freedom, were made after President Pervez Musharraf imposed a state of emergency on November 3. 

The emergency decrees were lifted on December 15, restoring the Constitution’s Article 19, which promotes freedom of expression. However, the PFUJ said restrictions remain against the media under the amended ordinances, including bans on live coverage of election issues or events. 
"Media has not been free since November 3, when the emergency was imposed, and nor is it free now," the PFUJ said. "Article 19 has been restored, but why then are two private television channels - GEO and Royal - not permitted to resume their transmissions?” 
Pressure on media institutions to sign the Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority’s code of conduct, which contradicts the principles of a free and independent media, negate claims made by the President that he supports media freedom, the PFUJ added. 
Rather than being forced to sign a government-controlled code, a complaints council comprising independent people should be appointed, it said. 
The PFUJ will invite political leaders, senior editors, activists, lawyers and civil society members to join “protest camps” that will continue until January 10. The PFUJ plans to call for a big rally outside the Parliament during the first sessions of the National Assembly after the election. Journalists from throughout the country are expected to participate. 

“It is disingenuous for Pakistan’s authorities to claim the country enjoys media freedom when arbitrary bans remain in place. All restrictions on all media in Pakistan must be lifted,” said the IFJ’s Asia-Pacific Director, Jacqueline Park.

For further information contact IFJ Asia-Pacific on +61 2 9333 0919

The IFJ represents over 600,000 journalists in 120 countries