Worthwhile questions as Pakistan considers revival of 21st Amendment military courts
It hardly needs mentioning that in cases where death penalty is going to be used, the burden of proving guilt should be extremely high. Do those who support military courts really believe that the entire chain of investigation and prosecution is so stellar that in nearly 80 per cent of the cases, those who come before the courts are guilty beyond reasonable doubt, and deserving of death penalty? Is the possibility of corrupt practices, scapegoating, incompetence, human error, false confessions under torture, inadequate legal defence not real enough to consider? Shouldn’t it matter if the guilty are bit-players or masterminds? In how many cases did a ‘guilty’ verdict end an investigation which had only identified someone far down the chain of command rather than those calling the shots? Do we judge effectiveness by the number of prisoners on death row or the depth and breadth of investigations into the crimes they were accused of?