Thursday, February 18, 2016

Speed bump, or real limits?

Here is the lede of this article on a recent trial court order in Pakistan:
A Peshawar High Court bench on Wednesday stopped the provincial government from transferring a case of two alleged extortionists from an anti-terrorism court to a military court and asked it to explain who was authorised to send cases to military courts and what such cases were.
It would be premature to suggest, on the basis of this interim order, that the tide has turned on the trial of civilians in military courts under the 21st Amendment to the Pakistani Constitution, but perhaps this case will point to a high-water mark, and that there are limits to the extent to which these new courts can be employed. Other litigation in the Supreme Court will be critical, as they will reveal whether meaningful civilian review will in fact be available.

The 21st Amendment, currently set to expire next January, was passed because of perceived deficiencies in the administration of criminal justice through the regular courts. One looks in vain for any concrete steps over the last 13 months to remedy those defects. "Anybody home?"

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