Journalists, politicians and civil society criticise Cyber Crime Bill 2016
Farhatullah Babar seeks solid feedback from journalists for further discussion on the bill; MQM senator says his party also had reservations about the bill
ISLAMABAD: Addressing a seminar here on Tuesday journalists, politicians and the civil society rejected the Cyber Crime Bill 2016 approved by the National Assembly on April 13 demanding that the bill be approved by the Senate before it can be signed into a law. The controversial bill was also criticised by the Information Technology (IT) industry as well as civil society for restricting human rights and giving overreaching powers to state institutions. The bill was submitted to the National Assembly by the Ministry of IT in January 2015for voting.
Ex-President Pakistan Union of Journalists (PFUJ) Afzal Butt, President National Press Club (NPC) Islamabad Shakeel Anjum and Secretary NPC Imran Ahmed Dhillon along with the representatives of civil society addressed the seminar. The seminar was organized by the National Press Club (NPC) Islamabad and Rawalpindi Islamabad Union of Journalists along with the civil society organisations. Senator Farhatullah Babar sought solid feedback and recommendations from journalists for further discussion on the bill and to be reviewed in the Senate.
He said there would be no compromise on the freedom of information and expression and public interest was supreme for Parliament. “We are here to watch the public interest,” he added. He invite all the stakeholders, including media organizations, to join hands for the freedom of expression and information and to come with solid recommendations for amendment to the bill and for further legislation in the upper house.
“The media should come with suggestions and proper feedback to support legislators in this regard,” he added. Addressing the seminar, PTI Senator Shibli Faraz said his party also had reservations about the bill, adding, “We are in favor of freedom of expression and information to protect public interest. Senator Usman Khan Kakar hailed journalists’ struggle for democratic institutions and for protection of civil rights. He said the Pakistani media had been facing restrictions. He said the media had history of struggle against dictatorial regimes, adding that public interest would be supreme in any legislation.
MQM Senator Mian Ateeq Mir said his party would fully support journalists. He said they had strong reservations about the controversial bill. Highlighting different aspects of the Cyber Crime Bill and its effects on the freedom of expression and information, he urged journalists and the civil society representatives to raise their voice against the bill at different forums.
Senator Jamal Badini said in current eras changes and innovation accrued permanently. “We need a proper legislation against cyber crimes. He said the freedom of expression and public interest should not be damaged in any legislation. Ex-President Pakistan Union of Journalists (PFUJ) Muhammad Afzal Butt urged media organizations and civil society to unite for protection of freedom of expression and information. “We require a unified approach and proper plan of action to agree to the legislators to amend this controversial bill.”
President Nation Press Club (NPC) Islamabad Shakeel Anjum said certain terms had not been properly explained in the bill, which was against the public interest. He said the bill was a clear violation of freedom of expression and information and against the Constipation and basic human rights. Secretary NPC Imran Ahmed Dhillon said there would no compromise on the freedom of information. Senior journalist Hamid Mir, Aoun Sahi and others called for protection of freedom of expression and public interest.