Pakistan’s judges muzzling criticism in media: HRW

Pakistan’s judges should cease using their contempt of court powers to prevent the media from airing programmes critical of the judiciary, the Human Rights Watch said. “Since Pakistan’s independent judiciary was restored to office in 2009, the judiciary has repeatedly sought to prevent its criticism in the media through threats of contempt of court proceedings, which can bring prison terms,” the HRW said in a press release. The statement from the HRW added that since October 2012, the high courts in Islamabad and Lahore had been issuing orders to stop the broadcast of television programmes criticising the judiciary. “Judges sworn to uphold the rule of law should not be using their broad contempt powers to muzzle criticism by the media,” said Brad Adams, Asia director at Human Rights Watch.
“Judges have no special immunity from criticism. Unless they want to be seen as instruments of coercion and censorship, they should immediately revoke these curbs on free expression.”
The group added that recently, courts in Pakistan had openly issued a spate of orders that sought to limit the media’s free expression rights. On October 9, Judge Shaukat Aziz Siddiqui of the IHC issued a restraining order to the Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority (PEMRA) to stop airing criticism of the judiciary on television.
The court sought to justify its order by asserting that the media ban was “to ensure that no programme containing uncommendable, malicious, and wicked material is telecast by any of the channels in which person of the honourable chief justice of Pakistan and other honourable judges of the superior court are criticised, ridiculed, and defamed.”
The group moreover stated that on November 20, the court maintained the stay order preventing the airing of critical programming and demanded a progress report from PEMRA on a television show broadcast October 26 on a private channel, which criticised the conduct of Chief Justice Iftikhar Chaudhry. The court also issued a contempt notice to the channel’s chief executive officer, Haji Jan Mohammad.
Earlier on October 16, a judge of the Lahore High Court issued a stay order against the airing of “anti-judiciary” programming on television. On November 7, the court extended the stay against airing of television programming “intended to scandalise” the judiciary and directed PEMRA to ensure implementation of the order.
The statement added that journalists had told the HRW that major television stations and newspapers were informally advised by judicial authorities that they would be summoned to face contempt of court charges for criticising or commenting unfavourably on judicial decisions or specific judges. In 2010, editors and former editors of several publications faced contempt proceedings for publishing a story alleging misuse of office by the Sindh High Court chief justice, which was averted after their papers apologised publicly to the court. Moreover, Pakistan’s courts have been facing recurring allegations of judicial overreach into the constitutional domain of the legislature and the executive. “No branch of government, including the courts, should be immune from public opinion in a democratic society,” Adams said.
“Pakistan’s judges have demonstrated the independence to hold the government accountable. But their credibility will be lost so long as they fight against scrutiny and accountability of the judiciary itself.”

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  1. @MuhammadYounusB said:

    Why HRW is crying and shouting about Pakistan`s internal affairs.Why they do noot speak about Usrael`s inhuman and crucial POLICIES TOWARDS Islam and Muslims.As there is no law and Judiciary has to do and perform the duties of government.We condemn the harsh and one sided attitude of HUMAN RIGHTS WATCH.In that wat,they are not serving the world people.Media is also going on the wrong and destructive lines.

  2. @MuhammadYounusB said:

    Goverment is totally flopped and to run the affairs of the country,Judiciary has to take initiative for the betterment of the people and Why H R W are worried and why this so-called human rights keep silence for anti-Muslims activities..They must have to positive views and constructive policies.Media must also be serious and do not perform anti-Pakistan activities.

  3. @MuhammadYounusB said:

    For the last 32 years I have been suffering severe financial and health problems due to dispensation of my services from P.I.A by undemocratic,inhuman and dictatorship rules of Martial Law Regulation no.52 in 1981 in P.I.A without any proper justification.I submitted my petitions to every corner of authority concerned,but so far all in vai.Even I tried H R W to review and help me to push me out of this trouble,but These human beings loving organizations kept silence and as a result my internal status has gone down.Muhammad Younus Butt EX Acctt.Asstt. P.I.A P-40239 Let me try this channel how this H R W IS SINCERE IN THEIR MANIFEST AND MISSIONS.

  4. Ajaz Haque said:

    HRW is allowing itself to become a political tool in the hand of politicians who are being called to account by superior judiciary.

    Where was HRW when NRO, Corruption, misuse of power stealing of money by Generals from a bank to meddle in politics was in vogue. Now that superior courts are putting these guys to mat, suddenly this is against human rights!

  5. @MuhammadYounusB said:

    If H R W and Free and Independent Media are so sincere for the betterment of general people.let they come forward and struggle for me to get re-instated and restore my dispensed services under Martial Law Regulation in P.I.A,then we will realize they are are sincere and true in their missions.M.Y.BUTT Ex.Acctt.Asstt P.I.A P-40239

  6. Mani said:

    Where was HRW when Musharraf was in power and thousands were killed in target killings by goons of MQM, whose leader resides in UK, from where he orders these heinous crimes and where billions collected in extortion and corruption finally land up.

  7. Anon said:

    From 'khaki opium' to 'judicial opium' …
    and, god created Pakistan …

  8. Javaid Bashir said:

    HRW is doing its work. The judiciary should not cross the limits asnd interfere in the affairs of the government unless there is some violation of fundamental rights. The idea of independent judiciary is good but it can not extend its power beyond the constitutional purview, The judicial activism should not become an unbridled horse in the hands of judiciarty. The judges remarks are sometime irksome and nauseating.
    They should avoid giving remarks rather concentrate on writing the decisions with clarity. THe important cases must be heard to give relief to the suffering millions of people demanding JUstice. Justice needs to be done. JAVAID BASHIR ATTORNEY AT LAW

  9. aryan said:

    The American judiciary is even more biased. When they decide the matters relating to muslims they behave differently while dealing with white skin people they decide favourably. Human Watch is US puppet. It never speaks about Israel atrocities. It is fond of poking its nose in Pak affairs. Judiciary is doing well. the judges are human beings.

  10. Pakistani said:

    Some of the silliest comments that were ever seen.Your site administrator should be sacked.

  11. Muhammad Wajid via F said:

    We favour judiciary and Army over prostitute journalism and fake democracy!

Comments are closed.