Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP) sees threat to freedom of expression -Pakistan Press Foundation (PPF)

Paksitan Press Foundtion

Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP) sees threat to freedom of expression

Lahore- Recent attacks on publications, both by the government and orthodox groups, threaten the freedom of expression, says Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP) secretary general Hina Jilani.

“In each case, an attempt has apparently been made to silence critical voices through coercion”, she said in a statement.

The Sargodha deputy commissioner cancelled the declaration of monthly Awaz-i-Sharar this week allegedly because, as the publication’s chief editor said, a report citing officials interference in the recent local polling process had been carried in its August edition.

The correspondent of a national daily based in Hangu NWFP was arrested last month for reporting a tribal clash.

Similarly, police raided the Rawalpindi offices of an Urdu daily few weeks ago, harassed, and maltreated on duty staff. The editor and publisher of the paper alleged that his son had been dragged away by the police party.

According to Ms Jilani, the administrative authority was also used to prevent journalists from carrying out their legitimate assignments. The reporter of a national daily was not allowed to visit the Peshawar central jail, while the authorities apparently made no attempt to prevent an attack on a news agent’s office in Serai Naurang by religious activists.

Citing history, the HRCP secretary general warned the such attempts to suppress the press and voices of criticism had only had an adverse impact on society.

“Not only such attempts further stifle debate and discussion in an already repressive society, they also amount to blatant violation of fundamental rights and make a mockery of the government’s pledge to safeguard basic freedom.”

“Its is one of the principal responsibilities of the administration to ensure that basic rights are safeguard and adequate protection against harassment or banning of publications is guaranteed to journalists and editors,” she said.

Source: Dawn
Date:8/25/2001