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Event Title: Senate Functional Committee on Human Rights

Event Date: 2020-02-10

Senate Functional Committee on Human Rights in its meeting was briefed by Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority on its proposal of regulating web TV and OTT content and whether it violated Article 19 of the Constitution.

The meeting was held under the chairmanship of Senator Mustafa Nawaz Khokhar here at the Parliament House on Monday and was attended among others by Senators Quratulain Marri, Dr. Mehr Taj Roughani, Dr. Jahanzeb Jamaldini, Keshoo Bai, Ayesha Raza Farooq, Muhammad Tahir Bizenjo, Muhammad Ali Khan Saif, Dr. Sikander Maendhro, officers from the ministry of human rights, foreign affairs, national health services, PEMRA and digital media entrepreneurs.

The question of jurisdiction was raised as to whether this can be exercised by the authority regarding online content, its implications on the young entrepreneurs and global best practices on the issue. The Committee wasn’t satisfied by the justifications given by the Chairman PEMRA and concluded that the authority does not have the jurisdiction over web content.

Ministry of Foreign Affairs told the committee that around 1094 Pakistanis are currently in the city of Wuhan and the situation is under control. 23 countries have evacuated citizens out of 120 countries who have their citizens in China. The embassy is in constant contact with the Pakistani students and no student has till date been found positive with the virus. The Committee recommended that students who have been monitored and tested and have not been found positive should be brought back to Pakistan.

The Committee briefly discussed The Zainab Alert, Response and Recovery Bill 2020 and The ICT Rights of Persons with Disability Bill 2020 and decided to hold a detailed session on both bills on 14 February. The Committee directed the ministry to review amendments suggested by the members as well as other stakeholders heard by the Committee and to address matters of helplines, special courts among others.