Monday, February 20, 2017

Reema Omer on revival of Pakistan's military courts

Reema Omer of the International Commission of Jurists has written this unanswerable Dawn opinion piece about the pending proposal to revive Pakistan's military courts. Excerpt:
The assertion that these trials met ‘due process’ makes a mockery of the principle of fair trial. Such trials are not just a violation of the rights of the suspects, they also necessarily bring the finding of guilt by these courts into question. On this ground alone, military trials of civilians must not be extended. 
The second claim, that these courts have helped reduce the threat of terrorism, is also weak. In the last nine days alone, several attacks alleged to be acts of terrorism have killed over 100 people in Pakistan. Even when they were in operation, the country saw some of the deadliest attacks in recent years including at an imambargah in Shikarpur, a university in Charsadda, a park in Lahore, a hospital in Quetta, and a mosque in Mohmand Agency. In this context, the claim that military courts have reduced terrorism, without any evidence or elaboration, is perplexing.
In any event, it is nearly impossible to show any kind of causal link between the types of jurisdiction used to adjudicate serious crime like acts of terrorism and the propensity of those who engage in such crimes to carry out these kinds of acts.

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