No cases registered against journalists, rights activists by FIA: Shireen Mazari

Updated 25 Sep 2020

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In this file photo, Human Rights Minister Shireen Mazari speaks in the National Assembly during the budget session. — DawnNewsTV screengrab/File
In this file photo, Human Rights Minister Shireen Mazari speaks in the National Assembly during the budget session. — DawnNewsTV screengrab/File

Minister for Human Rights Shireen Mazari on Friday refuted reports that the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) had registered cases against journalists and rights activists under the Prevention of Electronic Crimes Act (Peca), 2016.

Taking to Twitter, she said: "This was disturbing news so I checked and my information is that it's incorrect. A private citizen has sent a complaint to FIA against around 12 journalists.

"FIA examines all complaints but no FIR has been registered and FIA can't register a report under Peca without following the specified legal procedure."

She urged anyone with "contrary evidence in terms of FIRs" to inform her so that she can follow up.

The minister was responding to a tweet by the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP) which said it was "alarmed" by reports that cases against "49 journalists and social media activists" had been registered by the FIA under Peca.

"We demand that the state refrain from such action and stop using the FIA to curb political dissent," the commission said.

Amnesty International had also reacted to the news reports, calling upon authorities to withdraw the alleged charges immediately.

Meanwhile, Federal Minister for Science and Technology Fawad Chaudhry called upon those who "raised a hue and cry without confirmation" to apologise to the government and to the nation.

In the past few week, several cases have been registered against journalists for posting objectionable content about the state and the army.

Earlier this month, an FIR was registered against journalist Asad Toor for posting "negative propaganda against the state, Pakistani institutions and the Pakistan Army" on his social media account. A similar FIR was registered against journalist and former Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority (Pemra) chairman Absar Alam in Jhelum.

Prior to this, Bilal Farooqi, a senior journalist associated with English-language daily The Express Tribune was detained by Karachi police for allegedly posting "objectionable" material on social media and "defaming" the army.