Pakistan: Punjab Assembly Passes Defamation Bill Amid Protests

Pakistan’s Punjab Assembly approved on Monday the Defamation Bill of 2024, rejecting all amendments proposed by the opposition, Pakistan’s Dawn reported yesterday.

The bill was met with protests from the PTI-backed Sunni Ittehad Council (SIC) and journalists covering the proceedings.

The bill proposes a special tribunal to try those involved in “fake news”, with fines up to 3 million rupees. For allegations against constitutional office-holders, the high court will hear the cases.

The government refused to send the bill to a committee for wider consultation, stating it had already been discussed thoroughly. Opposition members claimed they were not present during the bill’s vetting.

Journalists boycotted the proceedings, calling the bill a “curb on free media.” The SIC tore apart copies of the bill, claiming it violated constitutional rights. The government defended the bill, with the Advocate-General providing clarification.

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