AEMEND calls on IHC to drop contempt charges against journalists for reporting on Rana Shamim affidavit

AEMEND calls on IHC to drop contempt charges against journalists for reporting on Rana Shamim affidavit

Pak News

A member of the College Editors Guild of the Philippines displays a placard during a protest outside Malacanang Palace. — Reuters/Files

The Association of Electronic Media Editors and News Directors (AEMEND) on Sunday expressed concern over an order of the Islamabad High Court which states that three journalists associated with the Jang Group, Editor in Chief Mir Shakil-ur-Rehman, Editor Investigation Ansar Abbasi and Resident Editor Aamir Ghouri, prima facie committed criminal contempt in reporting on an affidavit signed by ex-chief judge of Gilgit-Baltistan Rana Shamim, and called on the court to drop the charges.

“The court is satisfied that the acts of the alleged contemnors, prima facie, constitute committing criminal contempt and, therefore, proceeded under the Ordinance of 2003 by framing of charge,” the 12-page written order of the hearing, held on December 28, said.

The court summoned Rana Shamim, and others on January 7 for indictment in the case.

AEMEND, in its statement, said that the contempt charge levelled by the court is “worrying since the journalists merely reported an affidavit which exists and has been verified”.

“The order would have repercussions on press freedom and the freedom of expression of journalists in Pakistan, which already has a bad repute in this regard according to the RSF Global Press Freedom Index Report of 2021,” the statement added.

The association said that such reporting by journalists is “justified and legitimate”, since there was no ill intent involved in reporting “such proven news”.

“For the sake of the welfare of freedom of speech and people’s right to know, the journalists are on the right for reporting such valid and genuine stories,” the statement stressed.

“We strongly and fairly believe that indicting the respective media persons for merely practising their journalistic and rightful duties towards the people of Pakistan is unjustified and we appeal to the respected judges of the Islamabad High Court to drop all charges of contempt against the media persons,” it pleaded.

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