Friday, March 27, 2015

Military courts in Pakistan: Reuters investigative report

Reuters is running this informative piece about Pakistan's military courts. Excerpt:
Critics say the new rules cede too much ground to the military, which towers over Pakistani politics despite the first ever handover of power from one civilian government to another two years ago. 
A Reuters investigation of legal documents provided by lawyers and families of those tried under existing military courts also highlights concerns over how fair and accountable the new courts will be. 
Some convictions would have been thrown out by civilian courts, according to lawyers involved. Several defendants said they were denied access to legal representation in breach of military law. Some said they were tortured in custody. 
The military can, and sometimes does, dissolve and reprimand courts that reach verdicts they disagree with, then order repeated retrials, according to court documents and former military officials. 
"This happens often. The military is command-oriented, right from arrest until execution," said former military judge Inam ul-Rahiem.

He said he was forced into early retirement for delivering judgments the top brass disliked. He is now a defense lawyer in high-profile military cases.
Pakistan is in the process of adding new military courts to try civilians under the recently-enacted 21st Amendment to the Constitution, the validity of which is the subject of a host of Constitutional Petitions in the Supreme Court. 

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