Bill Seeking To Criminalise ‘Defaming The Armed Forces’ Moved In NA
A bill moved by Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) lawmaker Amjad Ali Khan in the National Assembly has sought to criminalise ‘defaming the armed forces or any of its members’.
The proposed law that seeks an amendment in the Pakistan Penal Code by the insertion of the Criminal Law Amendment Act 2020 suggests a two-year jail term or Rs500,000 fine in case one is found guilty of ‘ridiculing’ the armed forces of the country.
A private member’s bill, moved by PTI’s Amjad Ali Khan, seeks to criminalise defaming the armed forces or “any of its member”
This is clearly contrary to free speech guaranteed by our constitution, but how it is being welcomed is a telling illustration of where we are headed pic.twitter.com/PZja4qGrNP
— Reema Omer (@reema_omer) September 15, 2020
The bill reads: “Whosoever intentionally ridicules, brings into disrepute or defames the Armed Forces of Pakistan or a member thereof, he shall be guilty of an offence punishable with imprisonment for a term which may extend to two years, or with fine which may extend to five hundred thousand rupees, or with both.”
The bill was moved in the National Assembly after three journalists and a rights activist were booked over the past week over allegations of propaganda against state institutions.
On Sept 11, Journalist Bilal Farooqi was arrested and booked on charges of defaming the Pakistan Army and ‘hate speech’ over his social media posts. Rights activists and journalists condemned his arrest, saying that his detention was another instance of a clampdown on dissent.
Similarly, former Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority (PEMRA) chairman Absar Alam, journalist Asad Ali Toor, and Pashtun Tahaffuz Movement (PTM) member Ihtesham Afghan have been booked by the police under charges relating to the defamation of state institutions and anti-state activities.
The complaint, registered by a resident of Rawalpindi named Ehtisham Ahmed, against Toor stated that, “[Toor] spread negative propaganda and used derogatory language against the government institutions, including the Pakistan Army, which was a grave crime according to the law.”
Toor has been booked under sections 505 (statements conducing to public mischief), 500 (punishment for defamation) and 499 (defamation) and of the Pakistan Penal Code and sections 37 (unlawful online content), 11 (hate speech) and 20 (offences against dignity of a person) of the Pakistan Electronic Crimes Act 2016.