KARACHI: The Joint Action Committee (JAC) has rejected the Punjab Defamation Bill 2024, labelling it a draconian law, and has announced to challenge it in court.

Representatives from Pakistan Broadcasters Association (PBA), All Pakistan Newspapers Society (APNS), Council of Pakistan Newspapers Editors (CPNE), Pakistan Federal Union of Journalists (PFUJ) and Association of Electronic Media Editors and News Directors (AEMEND) participated in the committee’s emergency virtual meeting, condemning the bill for being passed in the dark of night without consultation of the stakeholders.

The meeting decided that the Joint Action Committee (JAC) will commence its struggle by liaising with political parties, human rights organizations, and other stakeholders.

The Punjab government’s bill will also be challenged in the Lahore High Court, and phased actions will include coverage boycotts, protest demonstrations, and sit-ins.

The JAC emphasised that media organisations are not against law-making but insist on stakeholders’ consultation prior to legislation.

The committee pointed out several authoritarian practices within the Defamation Bill 2024, including malicious tribunals, fines, the implementation of a new law despite the existence of previous ones, and various clauses aimed at curbing freedom of expression, restricting journalistic freedom, and contravening basic human rights. Such legislation, they asserted, is unacceptable.

Two journalistic organisations, APNS and PBA, had submitted suggestions and recommendations, none of which were considered, revealing the government’s bad faith and the ulterior motives behind the hastily approved law.

Various committees were formed during the meeting to consult stakeholders on outreach and other pertinent issues.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2024

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