Monday, January 19, 2015

Fair trial at issue in Pakistan's new military courts

Sikander Ahmed Shah, formerly a legal advisor to the Pakistan Ministry of Foreign Affairs, writes here in Dawn:
Military courts here . . . can be justified under international law, but only if they are solely employed to try the Taliban for war crimes during an internal conflict. Many scholars argue that during conflict, military judges are more qualified to try war crimes than civilian judges, as they are better able to assess guilt and innocence in the special context of a war.
But the Taliban should be tried as civilians and not as combatants for perpet[r]ating war crimes. While such categorisation is insignificant with regard to the Peshawar attack, because civilians were made the object of attack, classifying the Taliban as combatants risks according them combatant immunity, which can prevent prosecution for lawful acts of war, such as targeting Pakistani armed forces while actively engaged in hostilities.

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