Lahore (Pakistan), Thursday, August 13, 2009:
Press For Peace (PFP) has condemned the restrictions imposed by court officials on journalists to stop them from the reporting of proceeding of higher courts in Pakistani controlled Azad Jammu and Kashmir (AJ&K). The PFP demanded that all sanctions against media in AJ&K should be lifted so that journalists can perform their professional duties smoothly.
A statement issued here on Thursday from Press for Peace (PFP) said that the issuance of order from officials of Supreme Court, Azad Jammu and Kashmir to bar pressmen entrance in the court premises and to stop publication of news and reports about the higher courts of Azad Kashmir is a direct assault on the freedom of the press.
“Media persons have a legal and constitutional right to report the court proceeding for public information, therefore, they could not be deprived from their rights by such disgraceful orders, the statement further said.
It also condemned the contempt of court trial of three Kashmiri journalists and said that rather than initiating unnecessary cases against media persons, judiciary must evolve a transparent and independent mechanism of accountability of judges and other judicial officials.
“When accusations of wrong doings and corruption are placed against public office holders in civilized societies, they themselves prefer to resign in order to demonstrate their respect for rule of law, however, it is ironic that a judge is hearing the same case in which he is under allegations of being involved in increments of marks of his daughter by allegedly ‘forcing and pressurizing’ the concerned body", the statement further said.
PFP also expressed solidarity with the journalists of Lahore who have been intimated and physically abused by some lawyers during the last few weeks.
The PFP statement observed that lawyers’ community has always been claiming to be champion and guardian of constitution and civil liberties, however, recent wave of chauvinism of lawyers against media, police and other sections of the society is manifestation of an alarming and shocking trend in the society and it needs to be halted. “The Bar Associations and Bar councils should punish the responsible lawyers in order to preserve the grace of both prestigious professions", it added.