ISLAMABAD: The Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP) on Friday expressed its disappointment at the Islamabad High Court (IHC)’s decision to frame charges against the The News journalists for covering case pertaining to the former chief judge of Gilgit-Baltistan, Rana Shamim.
On December 28, 2021, the IHC chief justice ordered to frame charges against main alleged contemnor besides the three media persons –Jang Group’s Editor-in-Chief Mir Shakil-ur-Rahman, The News Editor Aamir Ghauri and Editor Investigations Ansar Abbasi-- for reporting the affidavit which former top Gilgit-Baltistan judge recorded to accuse former chief justice of Pakistan of allegedly “colluding” to deny bail to former prime minister Nawaz Sharif and his daughter Maryam Nawaz Sharif before the 2018 general elections. In a statement, the HRCP said: “It is in as much in the public interest to protect the Press Freedom and allow journalists to fulfil their responsibility of holding those in power to account, as it is to ensure that the judiciary remains unencumbered by the external pressure.
“We entreat the honourable court to annul this decision,” the HRCP added. Expressing solidarity with the The News journalists Pakistan Institute of Legislative Development and Transparency (PILDAT) also called on the IHC to drop contempt proceedings against them for publishing a verified story.
In a statement PILDAT said it believes that to protect freedom of media in Pakistan, no journalist should be penalised by the honourable courts for reporting on a news story. Abbasi performed his duty as a journalist to report on a public-interest news.
His reporting reflects that it is based on accepted journalistic norms, ethics and standards. He fulfilled his journalistic responsibility to not just verify the story but also sought, included and published the view of former Chief Justice of Pakistan.
The statement added: “Nowhere in the news story, there is any explicit or implicit contempt shown towards the honourable judiciary. Framing contempt charges against journalist and Editor Investigations Ansar Abbasi, Editor of The News International Aamir Ghauri and Jang Group Editor-in-Chief Mir Shakil-ur-Rahman will severely damage and compromise media freedom and independence of the judiciary in Pakistan.”
PILDAT appealed the Honourable Chief Justice and honourable judges of the IHC to drop contempt of court proceedings against Abbasi and the media group in keeping with the principles of rule of law and media freedom.
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