April 15, 2019
ISLAMABAD – At the launch on Monday of its flagship annual report – State of Human Rights in 2018 – the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan pointed to an unprecedented escalation in curbs on freedom of opinion and expression in the year of general elections.
The report said that media coverage was severely inhibited and journalists intimidated into self-censorship, most specifically in reporting on abuses by government security and intelligence agencies as well as militants.
Presenting the highlights of freedom of expression section, Ghazi Salahuddin said that HRCP was quite concerned about the prevailing situation. “It is unprecedented and worse than what we saw during Zia era.”
Also mentioned in the report is the government’s announced plans of forming the Pakistan Media Regulatory Authority. The media sees it as another means of restricting the freedom of the press, it said.
HRCP noted that Pakistan’s internet freedom declined in 2018, attributed to a problematic cybercrime law, internet shutdowns, and cyber-attacks against political dissenters, justified on the grounds of national security.
The report said that Freedom Network documented more than 150 violations, including verbal threats, killings, harassment, arrests, abductions, illegal confinements, and physical assaults against journalists and media groups across the country between May 2017 and April 2018.
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