Rights group urges Pakistan judges to stop censoring media

ISLAMABAD Tue Nov 27, 2012 2:57pm IST

An activist holds a handwritten sign during a protest against a court decision in Karachi April 23, 2011. REUTERS/Athar Hussain/Files

An activist holds a handwritten sign during a protest against a court decision in Karachi April 23, 2011.

Credit: Reuters/Athar Hussain/Files

Related Topics

ISLAMABAD (Reuters) - An international human rights group urged Pakistan judges on Tuesday to stop using their powers to censor media critical of the judiciary.

Over the last two months, judges have threatened several media executives and journalists with contempt of court if they published reports criticizing the judiciary, New York-based Human Rights Watch said.

"Judges have no special immunity from criticism," said Brad Adams, the group's Asia director. "Unless they want to be seen as instruments of coercion and censorship, they should immediately revoke these curbs on free expression."

Last week, an Islamabad High Court judge extended an order to the media regulatory authority to halt the airing of programming critical of Chief Justice Iftikhar Chaudhry and the judiciary.

Supreme Court officials could not immediately be reached for comment.

The judiciary, led by Chaudhry, has become a power centre in Pakistan's young democracy that has been ruled by the military for more than half its 65-year history.

Critics contend Chaudhry has pitted the Supreme Court against civilian and military leaders, distracting attention from the urgent task of reforming a broken judiciary.

The Supreme Court has about 20,000 cases pending and there is a backlog of about 1.4 million cases nationally, according to a U.S. State Department report.

Of those cases that reach court, only 5-10 percent result in conviction, according to a 2010 report by the International Crisis Group on reforming the justice system.

Prosecutors are underpaid and overwhelmed and judges rely almost entirely on oral statements rather than physical evidence. (Reporting by Randy Fabi; Editing by Nick Macfie)

FILED UNDER:

Economic Pulse

REUTERS SHOWCASE

Nifty Above 8,600

Nifty Above 8,600

Nifty hits record high above 8,600; state-run lenders gain  Full Article 

Indian in Iraq

Indian in Iraq

India says no contact with 39 men held by Islamic State in Iraq.  Full Article 

Sahara Issue

Sahara Issue

Sahara looks to raise $650 million loan to fund bail.  Full Article 

Bhopal Tragedy

Bhopal Tragedy

Bhopal's toxic legacy lives on, 30 years after industrial disaster.  Full Article 

Essar Group

Essar Group

Exclusive - Essar's planned oil-for-steel deal tests Iran sanctions  Full Article 

Islamic Fund

Islamic Fund

India gets new Islamic equity fund but debt market still off-limits  Full Article 

Fiscal Deficit

Fiscal Deficit

April-October fiscal deficit nears 90 pct of full-year target  Full Article 

Oil Prices

Oil Prices

Oil hits new four-year low post OPEC as glut looms  Full Article 

Gold Imports

Gold Imports

India eases gold import rule in surprise move.  Full Article 

Reuters India Mobile

Reuters India Mobile

Get the latest news on the go. Visit Reuters India on your mobile device  Full Coverage