December 01, 2020
ISLAMABAD—Pakistan Federal Union of Journalists (PFUJ) has rejected the “Removal and Blocking of Unlawful Online Content (Protection, Oversight, and Safeguards) Rules, 2020.”
It said in a statement that the government notified the rules secretly and implemented them through an extraordinary gazette notification. The union termed these as "black regulations."
PFUJ President Shahzada Zulfiqar and Secretary-General Nasir Zaidi said that the PTI government was bent upon reducing freedom of expression and speech guaranteed under Article 19 of the constitution.
The PFUJ leaders said the journalists would resist such draconian regulations and other laws introduced through ordinances and bypassing the parliament.
They said the new regulations would further curtail freedom of press and speech in the country.
The PFUJ leadership said that the new rules would enhance state surveillance of citizens’ privacy rights and undermine their constitutional right to raise their voice over issues they face freely.
The statement said that the new draconian regulations even criminalize fair criticism of government officials and state policies and have left interpretation of the constitution in the hands of unelected bureaucrats, including officials of Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA).
“Interpretation of law is the sole authority of the judiciary, but the draconian new regulations have taken away that right from the judiciary, and this is totally against the spirit of the constitution,” the statement said.
The PFUJ leaders urged the civil society and stakeholders to take a united stand for countering such regulations and laws aimed at suppressing people’s voices even on social media platforms.
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