MEMORANDUM on Press Council of Pakistan Ordinance, 2002 and Press, Newspapers, News Agencies and Books Registration Ordinance, 2002 1. Introduction
This Memorandum analyses the Press Council of Pakistan Ordinance, 2002 (Press Council Ordinance), the Pakistan Press, Newspapers, News Agencies and Books Registration Ordinance, 2002 (Registration Ordinance) and Freedom of Information Ordinance2002, for compliance with international standards on freedom of expression. The Ordinances were adopted on 21 August and came into effect immediately. 2. International and Domestic Obligations
II.1 the Guarantee of Freedom of Expression
Article 19 of the Universal Declaration on Human Rights (UDHR), a United Nations General Assembly Resolution, guarantees the right to freedom of expression in the following terms: Everyone has the right to freedom of opinion and expression; this right includes the right to hold opinions without interference and to seek, receive and impart information and ideas through any media and regardless of frontiers. The UDHR is not directly binding on States but parts of it, including Article 19, are widely regarded as having acquired legal force as customary international law since its adoption in 1948. The International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), a formally binding legal treaty, guarantees the right to freedom of opinion and expression at Article 19, in terms very similar to the UDHR. Although Pakistan has neither signed nor ratified the ICCPR, is an authoritative elaboration of the rights set out in the UDHR and hence of some relevance here. Freedom of expression is also protected in the three regional human rights systems, at Article 10 of the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR), Article 13 of the American Convention on Human Rights5 and Article 9 of the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights. Freedom of expression is a key human right, in particular because of its fundamental role in underpinning democracy. In its very first session in 1946 the UN General Assembly adopted Resolution 59(I) which stated, “Freedom of information is a fundamental human right and ... the touchstone of all the freedoms to which the United Nations is consecrated.” The UN Human Rights Committee has made clear the importance of freedom of expression in a democracy: [T]he free communication of information and ideas about public and political issues between citizens, candidates and elected representatives is essential. This implies a free press and other media able to comment on public issues without censorship or restraint and to inform public opinion. … This implies that citizens, in particular through the media, should have wide access to information and the opportunity to disseminate information and opinions about the activities of elected bodies and their members. The guarantee of freedom of expression applies to all forms of expression, not only those which fit in with majority viewpoints and perspectives. The European Court of Human Rights has repeatedly stated: Freedom of expression constitutes one of the essential foundations of [a democratic] society, one of the basic conditions for its progress and for the development of every man … it is applicable not only to ‘information’ or ‘ideas’ that are favorably received or regarded as inoffensive or as a matter of indifference, but also to those that offend, shock or disturb the State or any sector of the population. Such are the demands of pluralism, tolerance and broadmindedness without which there is no ‘democratic society’. Freedom of expression has a double dimension; it refers not only to imparting information and ideas but also to receiving them. This is explicit in international guarantees of freedom of expression such as that found in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, quoted above, and has also been stressed by international courts. The Inter-American Court of Human Rights, for example, has stated: [T]hose to whom the...
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