Human rights award winner and founder of Digital Rights Foundation, Nighat Dad commended the Islamabad High Court (IHC) decision, which found PECA ordinance unconstitutional and in derogation of fundamental rights.
Speaking about the decsion on twitter, Dad accredited the win to digital rights organisations, activists, lawyers, bar councils, journalists, PFUJ, women’s rights movement, and survivors of sexual assualt.
Islamabad High Court sruck down the Prevention of Electronics Amendement (PECA Ordinance) in derogation of the Constitution and the fundemental rights, especially Articles 9, 14, 19 and 19-A; fundemental rights include right to life, freedom, information and freedom of expression.
Under Section 20 of the PECA ordinance which highlights the extent of expression or ‘harms of reputation’, the offence was considered unconstitutional and ‘invalid beyond reasonable doubt.’ Dad explained that this section of cyber criminal defamation has been used before to target journalists, activists an survivors of violence, especially victims of #MeToo.
The Federal Government is expected to review the defamation laws and propose a legislation to the parliment for making its implementation effective. The Secetary, Ministry of Interior and Government of Pakistan, has also asked for an inquiry into the conduct of officials of NR3C of FIA which has been ‘weaponized against indivituals to harrass, intimidate and silence them’, Nighat Dad tweeted.
The govt has been directed to review defamation laws, given their outsized impact on freedom of speech, particularly mentioning the defamation ordinance 2002, but the govt should also review defamation sections 499 and 500 of the PPC for the reasons outlined in the court order. pic.twitter.com/JSJECVjlHR
— Nighat Dad (@nighatdad) April 8, 2022
The IHC believes the conduct of offiicials of the Cyber Crime Wing of FIA has led to ‘widespread abuse of powers and the consequent grave violations of fundamental rights of citizens.
Nighat Dad initiated Pakistan’s first cyber harassment helpline, and has also been named as a member of Facebook’s independent Oversight Board.