Wednesday, October 11, 2017

A military justice reform proposal in Pakistan

Brig. (R) Shaukat Qadir, PA
Shaukat Qadir, a retired Pakistan Army brigadier, has offered an interesting suggestion for reform of his country's military justice system. Excerpt:
Most non-military personnel hold the view that no judicial representation exists within our military court system. Actually, this is not strictly true. It is mandatory for every military court to grant procedural access to a member of the military judiciary, the Judge Advocate General, JAG Branch, where all members must have a law degree. Yet this is not without problems. For while these learned folk may know the law — they may not be jurists and, consequently, may not comprehend “beyond reasonable doubt” — a concept to which, I am not sure, should be strictly adhered.
As at Nuremberg, one solution might be to have a high court judge as a member of each military court bench. Here again we are likely to face our psycho-social complexities pertaining to our old friend, the ego. In other words, a high court judge may find it below “His Lordship-ly” honour to sit on a military court. 
But, where there is a will, there is a way. In legal parlance there is a term Amicus Curiae, which is Latin for ‘friend of the court’. Usually a well reputed judge or lawyer who sits not as a member of the court but in an advisory capacity, whereby his opining represents a matter of record. Our military courts could, while retaining the compulsory member of the court from the JAG Branch, have a reputable lawyer as per Amicus Curiae.
Any Pakistani advocate willing to take on this ‘challenge’ will only have his reputation enhanced. While our military courts will enjoy genuine civilian judicial presence and, one hopes, also a jurist present.

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