Jurisdictional issues see journalist’s case back in court in Attock – Reuters

ISLAMABAD: While a magistrate from the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) on Wednesday referred the case of TV presenter and pre-trial detention of YouTuber Imran Riaz Khan to a magistrate from Attock and the High Court of Islamabad ruled on his contempt plea on the question of jurisdiction, a standing Senate committee took notice of his detention and requested a detailed report from the Ministry of Human Rights within 24 hours.

Mr. Riaz, who was arrested by Attock Police on June 25 under Sections 505-1(C), 505(2), 501, 109 of the Pakistan Penal Code and six other charges under the Prevention of Electronic Crimes (Peca) Act 2016, was arrested on July 5 near the Islamabad toll plaza while on his way to the federal capital to appear before the IHC in connection with a hearing on his motions for bail before his arrest. Shortly after the arrest, his attorney filed a contempt motion with the IHC late Tuesday evening.

Also on Wednesday, the chairmen of at least two upper house standing committees also learned of the TV presenter’s arrest.

Additionally, Interior Minister Rana Sanaullah told a reporter that the government was against restricting freedom of speech, but added that freedom of speech was not a license to make allegations without any evidence.

Two Senate panels learn of Imran Riaz’s arrest; Rana Sana says no one has the right to make unverified allegations

“Are you a hired reporter that you started attacking us without checking? What advantages do you derive from it? he asked and urged the fraternity of journalists to take note of such behavior.

Earlier in Attock, when the journalist appeared in court under Civil Judge Yasir Tanveer, he remained handcuffed as lawyers demanded time for oral arguments. Granting the request, the court was adjourned until 2 p.m. PTI MP Tahir Sadiq was also present inside the courtroom, while strict security measures were in place.

Later, when the hearing resumed, arguments were exchanged between the public prosecutor and defense lawyer Mian Ali Ashfaque, who questioned the absence of the plaintiff, Malik Mureed Abbas. However, the prosecutor expressed his ignorance when the judge asked where the complainant was.

Prosecutors also did not satisfy the judge when asked what derogatory language the YouTuber used against the institutions and why the institution concerned did not file an FIR against him. The court, in its order, ordered the police to bring him before the FIA ​​Magistrate as charges were also brought against him under the Peca, which fell outside the jurisdiction of the Attock Civil Court. .

Mr Riaz’s lawyer later told reporters that the proceedings would take place at the FIA ​​court in Rawalpindi.

However, FIA Magistrate Pervaiz Khan referred the matter from his remand to a judicial magistrate in Attock noting that the matter did not fall within the jurisdiction of Peca and therefore Imran Riaz should be brought before the competent court in whose jurisdiction the FIR was registered. The police were then ordered to present him before the magistrate of Attock on Wednesday evening.

Earlier, addressing the issue of his arrest, IHC Chief Justice Athar Minallah issued notices to the Chief of Police and Chief Commissioner of Islamabad over the detention and ordered them to appear. in the High Court at 10 a.m. Wednesday.

During the hearing on Wednesday morning, when the Chief Judge of the IHC was informed that the area where the suspect had been arrested fell under the territorial jurisdiction of Punjab, Judge Minallah also disposed of the motion for failure to jurisdiction, while allowing the petitioner to apply to the IHC again should the Lahore High Court declare the area outside its jurisdiction.

Amidst the hype surrounding the journalist’s detention, the chairman of the Senate Standing Committee on Human Rights, Senator Walid Iqbal, also learned of the matter and requested a report from the secretary of the ministry within 24 hours.

In a letter, the senator asked the secretary to report the reasons for the arrest as well as details of the alleged violation of fundamental rights and to explain if the act was not contrary to the spirit of sections 3, 5 and 7 of the protection of journalists and the media. Professionals Act 2021. The Ministry was also instructed to explain the measures taken to ensure the implementation of the provisions of the law.

A panel meeting will be held after the report is received, he added.

Senator Mohsin Aziz, chairman of the interior standing committee, also took the arrest seriously and said he would meet to investigate the police action and also seek reports from police chiefs in Islamabad and Punjab, particularly on the issues and concerns raised by Mr. Riaz regarding police harassment.

International human rights watchdog Amnesty International also released a statement on the matter, tweeting: “Amnesty International is alarmed by the news of the arrest of journalist Imran Riaz Khan and urges the authorities to stop punishing dissenting voices .

Meanwhile, the International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) and its Pakistani affiliate, the Pakistan Federal Union of Journalists (PFUJ), have urged the government to drop the charges against the journalist.

Iftikhar A. Khan also contributed to this report

Posted in Dawn, July 7, 2022

Thelma J. Longworth