Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Bridge for sale

Even though Global Military Justice Reform has sworn off reporting on every tick of the clock about whether and when Pakistan will revive the military courts that functioned for two years, we continue to monitor developments. Here's a fact that has been largely overlooked in the superficial and unimpressive "debate": the 21st Amendment, which permitted military courts to try civilians, expired on January 7, 2017. That was six weeks ago. Pakistan's legislators knew for two years that it would sunset according to its own terms. The purpose of the measure was to provide a stopgap in the wake of the December 2014 Army Public School massacre while civilian courts were buttressed/reformed/resourced so they could provide the timely, credible and effective administration of justice needed to deter further acts of violence. But funny thing: during those two years -- and now during the month-and-a-half since the sun set on the 21st Amendment, so far as we can tell, no steps whatever were taken to achieve that goal. The civilian courts seem to be functioning (or not) precisely as before. On this record, why should any legislator -- or voter -- believe that the necessary reforms will be instituted during the three years' worth of military courts that are currently proposed, when nothing whatever was even attempted during the preceding 25+ months? Anyone want to buy a bridge?

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