September 22, 2018

Amendment draft in Prevention of Electronic Crimes Act to add new offences for blasphemy and pornography held in secrecy

Islamabad, 5 January 2017: The federal cabinet on 27th December 2017 approved an amendment to the Prevention of Electronic Crimes Act 2016 to add scheduled offences for blasphemy and pornography in PECA, the cyber crimes law of Pakistan.

However, the copy of the draft amendment is being kept secretive under mysterious circumstances.

As per details, the draft amendment was approved by the cabinet under the chairmanship of Prime Minister Shahid Khaqqan Abbasi on December 27, 2017. It was also listed in the presser issued after the meeting.  However, the copy of the amendment has not been made available. Most reporters that this scribe spoke to have expressed concern over this mysterious behaviour.

“When such draft bills are approved, the copy is easily available with the library of the Parliament. However, no copy of this draft amendment is available either on the website or the library”, said an IT beat reporter.

Digital rights activist Usama Khilji says that this seems to be an extension of curbing speech online.

“There have already been cases of blasphemy law being used to try citizens for speech online; this only seems to be an extension of that, and it looks like an attempt to create fear and stifle dissent as we saw with the case of the five missing bloggers”, he said. 

The scribe, when he reached out to official sources, was told that the draft amendment had been kept secretive at the request of some quarters owing to the sensitivity of the matter.

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