Pakistan: Imran Khan media ban is 'disturbing'

Imran Khan has repeatedly been hit by media bans in Pakistan © FAROOQ NAEEM/AFP via Getty Images

New prohibition on broadcasting speeches of embattled former prime minister is part of long pattern of using media regulator for political ends

Private news channel ARY News also has licence suspended

‘Criticism of state institutions cannot be considered hate speech’ - Rehab Mahamoor 

Responding to a ban on broadcasting the speeches of ex-prime minister Imran Khan and the suspension of private news network ARY TV in Pakistan by the Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority on Sunday, Rehab Mahamoor, Amnesty International’s South Asia research assistant, said:

“The blanket ban on an opposition leader’s speeches and suspension of ARY News is a disturbing demonstration of how successive Pakistani authorities target critical voices and use the country’s media regulatory authority to threaten press freedom.

“Overbroad use of bans on news and media publications constitutes a violation of the right to freedom of expression.

“Criticism of state institutions cannot be considered hate speech as has been suggested by PEMRA. 

“The Pakistani authorities must withdraw any blanket bans and stop cracking down on journalists and media houses that publish content critical of the Government.”

Regulator used for political purposes

On Sunday evening, Pakistan’s media regulator banned television channels from broadcasting speeches and news conferences by Imran Khan, accusing the former prime minister of attacking the state’s institutions and promoting hatred. It also suspended the licence of ARY News, a private news channel. This is the third ban on broadcasting and rebroadcasting the ex-prime minister’s speeches and press events on satellite TV channels in Pakistan since he was ousted from power. Amnesty has previously documented how successive governments have used Pakistan’s media regulator to issue “politically-motivated bans” against media companies whose political leanings do not align with those of the Government. 
 

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