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Pakistan: Punjab Province Criminalizes the Glorification of Terrorism

(Jan. 23, 2015) On January 20, 2015, Pakistan’s Punjab provincial government promulgated an amendment to a maintenance of public order ordinance that criminalizes expressions of support, sympathy, and glorification of terrorism. (Punjab Maintenance of Public Order Ordinance, No. 31 of 1960, amended by Punjab Maintenance of Public Order (Amendment) Ordinance 2015 (Amended Ordinance), PUNJAB LAWS.) The amending ordinance appears to address speeches or views expressed in the media or any public forum which glorify or sympathize with terrorist organizations. (Intikhab Hanif, Punjab Bans Glorification of Terrorists, DAWN.COM (Jan. 21, 2014).)

Section 6-A, which was inserted by this amendment to regulate speeches, stipulates that “[a] person shall not, by words spoken or written, or through visible representation, directly or by implication”:

(a) support, propagate or promote,

(b) evoke or attempt to evoke sympathy or compassion for,

(c) project, commend or glorify,

(d) challenge, thwart, undermine or oppose any action of any law enforcement agency against, or

(e) jeopardize any ongoing security operation against any terrorist, act of terrorism, terrorist organization, or proscribed organization. (Amended Ordinance, § 6-A (1).)

A person who contravenes the new section is punishable with imprisonment for up to three years and a fine. (Id. § 6-A(2).) Another section was inserted to authorize the head of a local area police station to direct an organizer of a public meeting or gathering to submit audio or video recordings of all speeches made at the public meeting. (Id. § 8-A.) Failure to do so could result in up to six months of imprisonment and a fine. (Id. § 8-A(3).)