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Acting Punjab governor signs Defamation Bill into law despite outcry

 JournalismPakistan.com
 June 08, 2024

Acting Punjab governor signs Defamation Bill into law despite outcry

LAHORE—The Acting Punjab Governor Malik Muhammad Ahmed Khan (pictured) has signed the controversial defamation bill passed recently by the Punjab Assembly which has now become a law.

Governor Punjab Sardar Saleem Haider Khan had assured he would not sign the bill and consult all the stakeholders involved. However, Geo News reported that after Sardar Saleem went on leave, Malik Muhammad signed the bill as the acting governor Punjab.

Arshad Ansari, President of the Lahore Press Club said that they would convene a meeting of their action committee and decide on the course of protest and action. 

The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) had earlier issued a strong appeal to Governor Punjab Sardar Saleem Haider Khan, urging him not to sign the defamation bill passed by the Punjab Assembly recently.

IFJ Global President Dominique Pradalié had emphasized that the law poses a serious threat to freedom of speech and would likely be used to suppress dissenting voices critical of the government.

In a statement, Pradalié highlighted the potential misuse of the defamation bill, expressing concerns that it would serve as a tool to silence journalists, activists, and anyone opposing governmental actions.

"This law will be used to silence the voices against the government," she stated, warning of the dire implications for press freedom and democratic discourse in Punjab.

The Defamation Bill, which has sparked significant controversy, aims to impose stringent penalties on individuals and media organizations found guilty of defamation. Critics argue that the bill's vague language and harsh punishments could lead to self-censorship among journalists and stifle investigative reporting.

Photo credit: brecorder.com

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