APNS disapproves press laws
KARACHI- The All Pakistan Newspapers Society (APNS) has expressed its disapproval of the press laws announced by the cabinet on August 31, 2002, as the laws in their present form are a breach of the APNS-government agreement.
The APNS said that it was agreed that the package of laws, including freedom of information act, would be released simultaneously whereas this law has not yet been issued. Without freedom of information act, these laws would negate the freedom of press.
A statement issued by APNS Secretary General Kazi Asad Abid here on September 3 said that the Ministry of Information in its meeting with APNS on July 23 had agreed on the insistence of APNS and CPNE to withdraw certain amendments proposed by the government to the draft Press Council of Pakistan Ordinance and the draft Registration of Printing Press, Newspapers and Books Ordinance.
The summary study of the text of two ordinances provided by the ministry today suggests that the government has violated the agreement and the amendments withdrawn in the July 23 meeting have again been incorporated in the ordinances without consulting the APNS.
The Secretary General APNS said the draft agreed to by the APNS, CPNE and the Ministry of Information had provided the composition of the council consisting of 17 members without any nomination by the government. It is regretted that the government, in contradiction of the agreement, has added four of its nominees to control the council and thus affecting its independent nomenclature.
The Secretary General said the text of the third ordinance – Defamation Ordinance – has not been provided to the APNS hence “we are unable to give our reaction on the law.” However, in the press conference of the information minister, the salient features of the law were narrated. The earlier draft sent to the APNS provided compensation up to a certain amount, whereas in the law, words “up to” have been changed to a “minimum of Rs 50,000. Thus fixing the minimum ceiling of compensation very high. This is again a departure from the mutual agreement.
The APNS urges the Ministry of Information to abide by the agreements arrived at between the APNS, CPNE and itself and withdraw the aforementioned provisions before the laws are enacted. The APNS also urges the government to immediately issue freedom of information ordinance as suggested by the APNS and the CPNE.