Punjab Defamation Bill is strangling freedom of expression, Human Rights Commission expresses concern

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Punjab Defamation Bill is strangling freedom of expression, Human Rights Commission expresses concern
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Punjab Defamation Bill is strangling freedom of expression, Human Rights Commission expresses concern

The Human Rights Commission of Pakistan has expressed concern over the draft defamation bill in Punjab.

The Human Rights Commission of Pakistan has said in a statement that the Punjab Defamation Bill is strangling freedom of expression. The content and language of the bill is troubling in several respects.

The Human Rights Commission of Pakistan further stated that the Defamation Bill proposes a parallel structure to adjudicate defamation claims. The Human Rights Commission has always rejected such parallel judicial structures.

According to the HRCP declaration, this structure is contrary to fundamental rights and introduces a parallel system of judiciary. The bill proposes to set up defamation tribunals.

According to the HRCP, the bill calls for the appointment of judges at the district level on higher allowances and privileges than the judiciary. Defamation claims are said to be resolved within a short period of 180 days. An injunction is empowered to issue a defamation claim without a trial. The bill restricts freedom of expression and dissent.

According to the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan, the transparent and fair trial will be affected. In the draft, a judge of Lahore High Court has been appointed for the hearing for the persons holding constitutional positions.

According to the HRCP, defamation cases related to the Prime Minister, Chief Justice and military chiefs will be handled by a special one-member tribunal consisting of a judge of the Lahore High Court. It is a violation of equal law and principle of equality for citizens.

According to HRCP, the bill was passed in haste, the style is also disturbing. 5 days is insufficient for consultation with civil society and mainstream media.

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