ISLAMABAD, (Pakistan Point News - APP - 19th Augst,2016) : Prevention of Electronic Crimes Act, 2016 (PECA) has enacted provisions for prevention of electronic crimes in consonance with principles of human rights enshrined in constitution and internationally acclaimed conventions such as International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, Minister of State for Law and Justice, Zafarullah Khan said. He said PECA has conducted detail deliberations on its contents prior to its introduction in parliament by Ministry of Information Technology in addition to other stakeholders including tech houses, industry representatives and professionals from IT, telecom and legal fraternity.
In a statement issued here Friday, he stressed that process of public consultations has carried out even after its introduction in National Assembly while exclusive public hearings were also held by respective standing committees of National Assembly and notably by Senate in August 2015 and June 2016. It is pertinent to mention here that the government introduced Bill on subject was amended accordingly by both houses of parliament, thus the negative campaign against PECA is a tantamount to call into question the prerogative and bonafide intention of lawmakers representing people of Pakistan in parliament.
This implies that certain section driven by their own designs contrary to wishes and aspirations of general public of the society is trying to eclipse exertions and dedications of the parliamentarians. Zafarullah Khan said the relentless efforts to paint a negative image of PECA as a retrogressive law pivoted on instigating a baseless propaganda to malign the country at international forum. Impression has been portrayed that right of freedom to express one's opinion have been thwarted under section 20 of PECA declaring public transmission of false information which one knows to be false, to intimidate or harm a person's reputation or privacy as an offence punishable by a maximum detention for three years, he added.
The Minister said the right to freedom of expression carries special duties and responsibilities have also been integrated in PECA under Article 19 & 19-A of the Constitution in line with Article 19 (3) of ICCRP. Hence, the said provision includes only the propagation of "false information." Fair and constructive criticism, opinion or true assertions do not fall under the purview of this provision unlikely to generate any impact on investigative work/journalism.
The legislation of cyber crime law is need of the hour to safeguard public from nefarious elements in society and the efforts of certain section to raise objections and make it controversial is a matter of sheer lack of understanding of overall legal system of Pakistan. PECA, except in cases where specific offences have been committed due to advancements in information technology, is to be construed in light of provisions in Pakistan Penal Code, said the Minister.
Zafarullah Khan stressed that utmost care and attention have been taken to safeguard public from abuse of the law itself and in this connection, principles delineated in PECA for the prescription of detailed implementation framework as rules inter alia for investigation, training of investigation agency's officials, Standard Operating Procedures for international cooperation and operations of an independent forensic laboratory. A high level ministerial committee has been instituted to carry out this task.