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Council of Pakistan Newspaper Editors rejects amendments to press council legislation

(PPF/IFEX) - The Council of Pakistan Newspaper Editors (CPNE) of Pakistan has rejected amendments to the press council legislation proposed by the government. The CPNE said the amendments would change the press council from an independent and voluntary body to a 'Special Court' that could be used against the press.

The CPNE noted that the earlier structure of the press council has been made controversial by the government's proposing of new amendments in a bid to squeeze the national press and that this would not be acceptable at any cost. The CPNE decided to seek opinions from legal advisors and put forward a joint strategy with newspaper publishers.

The changes proposed by the government include giving more powers to the government-appointed Chairman and giving the press council the status of a civil court with powers to summon witnesses and documents, issue warrants, impose fines and cancel the licenses of newspapers and magazines that do not follow the prescribed Ethical Code of Practice for the print media.

Although the ordinance on the press council was promulgated in 2002, the council has not yet become functional.

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