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September 11, 2017

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No law against press freedom to be enacted: PCP

No law against press freedom to be enacted: PCP

ISLAMABAD: The Press Council of Pakistan (PCP) has clarified a news item which appeared in a section of the print media ascribing to the Council and government that it is going to introduce repressive press laws in the country.

The PCP clarified that the contents of the news story are incorrect and have created an impression that a democratic order in the country is going to be impacted as the Press Council, a print media regulator, is framing a set of laws not consistent with the spirit of Article-19 of the Constitution, 1973 that guarantees right to speech.

A spokesperson for the PCP in a statement issued here Sunday reiterated that the Constitution of Pakistan unequivocally guarantees that every citizen shall have the right to freedom of speech and expression, and there shall be freedom of the press, subject to any reasonable restrictions imposed by law in the interest of the glory of Islam or the integrity, security or defence of Pakistan or any part thereof, which includes friendly relations with states.

The spokesman said it is against this constitutional provision that no law inconsistent with the Article 19 of the Constitution can be framed. “Even after introduction of 18th Amendment in the Constitution, the subject of newspapers has been devolved to the provinces, leaving no empowerment for the federal government to legislate without supportive resolution from the provinces in line with relevant articles of the Constitution,” said the spokesman.

He said the contents of the news story along with the points of reference raised therein are factually incorrect and misleading. “It is further clarified that the existing Press Council of Pakistan Ordinance 2002 is in place which has in its schedule laid down a detailed ethical code of practice for print media to follow that provides adequate framework of print media freedom and responsibilities alike,” said the statement.

The spokesman said the government fully believes in the freedom of press, and is doing its best to ensure that every citizen and media person legitimately exercises one’s right to information. “Going by this principle as enshrined in the Article 19-A of the Constitution, Senate has passed on 22nd August, 2017 Right of Access to Information Bill 2017 which shortly is to be laid before National Assembly in order to make it a permanent part of freedom related laws in Pakistan,” he said.

“It is re-emphasised that no law over the subject mentioned in print media reports has ever been framed. It may relevantly be added that the legislation process whenever undertaken by the federal government is initiated in consultation with the stakeholders. The question of curbing media freedom therefore does not arise,” the spokesman emphasised.

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