Thursday, December 31, 2015

4 more 21st Amendment hangings in Pakistan

Four more men have been hanged following military court trials in Pakistan under the country's year-old 21st Amendment. Dawn has run this editorial. The amendment is supposed to sunset in a year's time. Thus far there is no sign that the civilian criminal justice process, whose deficiencies are said to have been a primary cause for ratification of the amendment, has been upgraded (or will be in time for the sunset). Dawn's latest editorial notes:
President Mamnoon Hussain had also promulgated an ordinance further revising the recently amended Army Act to ostensibly aid the functioning of military courts by allowing for trials in camera, i.e. without the presence of the public or the media, and over video link if necessary.
Postscript: The Senate, acting as a committee of the whole, has just approved a report titled "The Provision of Inexpensive and Speedy Justice." According to Dawn's account:
The report observed that the police’s failure to submit a challan [summons] in time is a leading cause of delays in the disposal of criminal cases.
It recommends the submission of a challan in 14 days, and states that the submission of a challan after the statutory period should be treated as inefficiency on the part of the station house officer concerned. 
The report has also proposed capacity building for investigation officers, prosecutors and judges of anti-terrorism courts, the formation of trained police forensic evidence collection units, and a mechanism for increased coordination between police and military-run intelligence agencies.
If police failures to issue summonses in a timely fashion are a leading cause of delay in the criminal justice process, what are the others, why has it taken a year to come to that conclusion, and can this be a plausible rationale for amending the Constitution to authorize the creation of special military courts with power to try civilians? What does "capacity building" mean in the last quoted paragraph? Starting from scratch?

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