Dr. Fawad Kaiser on Pakistan's new military courts
"A big problem with military courts is that trials are held behind closed doors. This creates a sphere beyond the control of ordinary courts and outside the country’s system of democracy. Trials in such institutions should not be closed to the public although defendants would have the right to appeal rulings. Behind closed doors, the possibility cannot be ruled out that the rights of the accused could be violated. The application of the amended law violates the rights of defendants to a fair trial as much as it allegedly promotes them. Judges in the military justice system are military officers subject to a chain of command, who do not enjoy the independence to ignore instructions by superiors. Although they are sent to judge other people, military judges continue to seek acceptance among their own people through their judicial policies. This requires explaining the state of military court jurisdiction over non-military personnel for human rights violations in democracies and stresses that the variation in reform of military courts is necessary to create the relative balance between the extent of military autonomy and the strength of the civilian rights in peacetime. . . ."