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Opposition and media bodies plan to protests following Punjab’s approval of the defamation bill for 2024

Opposition and media bodies plan to protests following Punjab's approval of the defamation bill for 2024

The passage of the highly controversial Defamation Bill 2024 by the Punjab Assembly has ignited strong reactions from media bodies, opposition members, and civil society organizations. Despite objections and requests for further review, the bill was pushed through via a voice vote, leading to widespread condemnation and plans for protests.

Media bodies, including the Pakistan Federal Union of Journalists (PFUJ) and the Council of Pakistan Newspapers Editors (CPNE), have announced joint protests against the bill outside the Lahore Press Club. They criticized the Punjab government for disregarding stakeholders’ demands and passing the bill without meaningful consultation.

The president of the Lahore Press Club reiterated the journalistic community’s determination to protest against the bill, emphasizing that its passage contradicts democratic principles. Plans for further meetings and united action against the bill were announced to devise a new course of action.

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The opposition also strongly objected to the bill, raising concerns about its potential misuse to suppress freedom of expression and inhibit journalistic freedom. Despite their objections, the government proceeded with the passage of the bill, drawing criticism for the lack of meaningful consultation and dialogue on such a significant legislative matter.

Legal experts and human rights organizations have joined in condemning the bill, highlighting its broad definition of defamation and the potential threat it poses to freedom of expression and dissent. They argue that the bill’s provisions could lead to arbitrary arrests and prosecutions, undermining the principle of equality before the law.

The passage of the defamation bill has sparked widespread concern among various segments of society, indicating the need for further dialogue and review to address the significant issues raised by stakeholders.