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Current Affairs

Pakistan’s draconian media law

Date: 24 February 2022 Tags: Miscellaneous

Issue

A new ordinance called Prevention of Electronic Crimes Act, 2016 has been promulgated by the Pakistan’s federal government.

 

Background

The ordinance has been dubbed by the opposition as ‘draconian’. The President has swiftly signed the order to make it a law.

 

Details

The law has provisions for jailing social media users for five years for posting “fake news”. The law was originally legislated by previous government.

 

The law

  • The law makes it an offence to run a website or send information with a “counterfeit source”. Satire and parody websites also come under its ambit.

  • Federal officers have been given the authority to unlock any electronic device in order to investigate a crime.

 

Amendments to the law

  • The law has been made more stringent by including state institutions such as the military and judiciary.

  • People charged under the law cannot get bail for six months. Jail term has been raised from three years to five years.

 

Who will come under the law?

 Any company, association or body of persons whether incorporated or not, institution, organisation, authority or any other government bodies under the law.

 

Provisions

  • Courts will have to expedite trials in six months and submit monthly progress of any pending trial to the high court concerned.

  • Under the rules, social media companies would be required to set up offices in Pakistan within three months and appoint a compliance officer to address grievances.

 

Opposition

Opposition leaders and civilian sections have accused the rules as draconian that will completely silence the media and the Opposition.