General Pervez Musharraf in October 2002 promulgated the press council ordinance which provides for a press council for Pakistan professedly aimed at.
Press Council Ordinance 2002
- Improving professional standards of all journalists.
- To insure press freedom in the country.
- The council allows for a mechanism to register complaints by the public in violation of an ethical code of practice.
The law states that the code which deals with such weighty issues as morality, plagiarism, fairness etc will let journalists perform their duty with responsibility, the council will be an independent entity.
- Preserve press freedoms by maintaining high professional and ethical standards of newspaper and news agencies.
- Helping newspaper and news agencies to maintain independence.
- Revise, update, enforce and implement the code for newspapers, news agencies, editors, journalists and publisher.
- Receive complaints about violation of codes by newspapers editors, and journalists.
- Appoint inquiry commission to decide complaint.
- Receive complaints by newspaper or journalists against government officials or organizations including political parties for hindering functions of press.
In Pakistan a voluntary code of ethics was adopted in 1972 by general assembly of the committee of the press and hence there was no reason a new code was required.
Freedom Of The Press
Freedom of press consist of constitutional or statutory protections pertaining to the media and published material.
With respect to government information, any government distinguishes which materials are public or protected from disclosure to the public based on classification of information as sensitive, classified or secret and being otherwise protected from disclosure due to relevance of the information to protecting the national interest. Many governments are also subject to sunshine laws or freedom of information legislation that are used to define the ambit of national interest.
"I fear the newspapers more than a hundred thousand bayonets."Napoleon Bonaparte
Universal Declaration Of HR States
"Everyone has the right to freedom of opinion and expression, this right includes freedom to hold opinions without interference, and impart information and ideas through any media regardless of frontiers."
Without liberty of the press, there can be no free access to public information and the public opinion to which all free men are entitled. In a democratic society unless the press itself enjoys freedom it cannot defend and protect the rights and liberties of the citizens. Only free press can perform sacred task of fourth estate. Freedom of the press cannot be used as a license against anyone. However free the press maybe it cannot be allowed the freedom to call in questions the integrity of the judges of high court and supreme court or to defame them. Our constitution under article 19 has recognized the freedom of expression and speech of the citizens, which is the basis of freedom of the press, but this right is subject to any restriction imposed by law in the interest of glory of Islam or integrity or security of Pakistan, friendly relations with foreign states, public order, decency or morality, contempt of court, defamation an incitement to an office.
There has been a demand in Pakistan that such an amendment should be made in constitution so that in future no government is able to clam censorship on the press.
There is no doubt that censorship on the press violates the freedom of speech and expression of the citizens. It violates the citizen's rights to free flow of communication. Censorship is not justified except in times of war or internal insurrection.