Saturday, May 14, 2016

Transparency and torture in Pakistan's military justice

Umer Ali has written a powerful column for Pakistan Today, commenting on the inadequacies of the country's military courts as well as charges of torture and mistreatment of military prisoners. Excerpt:
As the investigations were reported, there was undeniable evidence against [Saad] Aziz and his partners. One wonders, with such clear evidence, why was the case transferred to military courts? If they were absolutely guilty of the crimes, why wasn’t an open trial arranged? 
Many rights organizations have protested against the opacity of the military courts’ justice as they suspect the right to free trial is not given to the accused. In Sabeen Mahmud’s case, there are many questions surrounding her killers. Her driver, a witness to her murder, was killed last year under mysterious circumstances. Many suspected she was murdered for arranging a seminar on Balochistan at T2F. 
Such trials in closed rooms raise further suspicions about the transparency of the case and actual perpetrators. Many families of the convicts have alleged that the defendants were not allowed to have the lawyer of their choice, and neither were the defending lawyers given access to the evidence collected by the state.

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