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Senate Sub-Committee Formed To Fix Responsibility For Undeclared Media Censorship In Country

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ISLAMABAD: The Senate Functional Committee on Human Rights on Friday formed a sub-panel to fix responsibility for the undeclared censorship imposed on Pakistan’s media.

In the meeting, chaired by Senator Mustafa Khokar, the senators reached the conclusion that there was sufficient evidence to suggest that the Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority’s (Pemra) chairman and officials acted beyond their mandate and violated Article 19 of the Constitution.

The sub-committee has been specifically tasked to investigate, fix responsibility and determine whether the Pemra chairman is guilty of misconduct in light of Section 7 of the Pemra Ordinance, and whether Pemra officials are also guilty of misconduct and should be proceeded against for complying with and implementing illegal orders.

The sub-committee was directed to submit its report in this connection in one month’s time. The senate committee has also directed the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) to assist the sub-committee in every way possible, including providing them forensics of phone records of Pemra officials to determine how illegal orders were received, issued, and implemented.

The committee stressed that the findings should then be circulated by media organisations and journalists, along with the information that the Senate Human Rights Committee took notice and constituted a sub-committee.

It added that any future harassment or illegal orders by Pemra should be reported immediately to the senate sub-panel.

Furthermore, the human rights committee is pondering to write to the Chief Justice of Pakistan (CJP) Asif Saeed Khosa to request the Supreme Court to intervene in order to safeguard Article 19 of the Constitution.

However, the authority denied the claims through its representative who informed the Senate panel that he had no knowledge of any incident where instructions were passed to media outlets to enforce censorship.

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