Pakistani authorities have barred the media from reporting on the gang rape of a mother in front of her young children that attracted global outcry after a top cop blamed the victim.
The Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority ordered television channels and newspapers to cease from doing follow-up reporting after police said “reckless” coverage might damage the evidence.
Amnesty International and Pakistani rights bodies have demanded the removal of the police officer who blamed the victim for travelling alone at night after the shocking rape.
The rape on a highway in the eastern city of Lahore last month triggered protests by rights activists and feminist groups.
Police have arrested one of the accused, but their failure to nab the main suspect after almost a month has come under scrutiny by media and activists.
“Law enforcement agencies are blaming the media for their failure. This ban is a dark example of censorship,” said Afzal Butt, leader of Pakistan’s federal union of journalists.
The Human Rights Commission of Pakistan called the ban absurd and asked the government not to look for a scapegoat to hide its failures.
Unions for journalists, rights bodies, and bar councils said a censorship campaign is underway to silence dissent since the military-backed government of Imran Khan took over in 2018.
Complaints of attacks, intimidation, and online abuse against journalists critical of the army or government have become common.