Media Matters launches ‘Charahgar’, a legal aid centre for journalists and media outlets, especially those wrongfully implicated for digital expression

Islamabad: Media Matters for Democracy is proud to introduce ‘Charahgar’, a legal aid centre aimed at providing legal advice, support, and defense to journalists and bloggers, especially those who are incriminated, threatened, harassed and/or unlawfully detained for their professional work or expression under Prevention of Electronic Crimes Act 2016.

Journalists, bloggers, and others engaged in journalistic expression who require any kind of legal defense, support or representation in cases linked to journalistic expression can call upon Charahgar for assistance at legalaid@mediamatters.pk or through WhatsApp on +92 335 5243732.

Please refer to this page for a detailed term of engagement of Charahgar – if you have questions regarding the type of legal cases we can and cannot support through Charahgar, please write to us at legalaid@mediamatters.pk 

“Media Matters for Democracy has raised concerns about journalistic implications of the law since the first draft of PECA was leaked. We made various submissions to the legislators drafting PECA to highlight the possible wrongful incrimination of journalists under this law. We have also watched with concern as the law has been operationalised to target media and media personnel for their journalistic expression”, says Asad Baig, the founder of Media Matters for Democracy. “We feel that it is urgent and essential to have a good legal defence for journalists and bloggers wrongly implicated under the law at this stage as decisions being taken now will define the case law. We are very happy to be able to extend legal support for it and hope that this contribution would help journalists fight back regressive, anti-civil-liberties actions under the guise of fighting cybercrime”.

Charahgar is headquartered at Media Matters for Democracy in Islamabad and operates through a network of lawyers in Karachi, Lahore, Islamabad, and Peshawar who have the relevant expertise and the requisite principled approach.

“Arbitrary actions against journalists and acts of intimidation by law enforcement are increasing by the day. Journalism is becoming a dangerous vocation. At the same time, this is the point where we need independent journalists the most”, says Sadaf Khan, the co-founder of Media Matters for Democracy. “We hope that Charahgar will help journalists who are being targeted for performing a duty that is essential for democratic progress”.

The initiative is being managed by Advocate Salwa Rana, who can be contacted via email legalaid@mediamatters.pk or via WhatsApp on +92 335 5243732.