Friday, July 28, 2017

UN Human Rights Committee 2017 concluding observations on Pakistan's military courts

The UN Human Rights Committee's July 25-26, 2017 concluding observations on the initial report of Pakistan can be found here. Among the Committee's observations:
Military courts 
23. The Committee is concerned at the extension of the jurisdiction of military courts to cases transferred from Anti-Terrorism Courts and to persons detained under the Actions (in Aid of Civil Power) Regulation. The Committee is also concerned that the courts have convicted at least 274 civilians, allegedly including children, in secret proceedings and sentenced 161 civilians to death. It is also concerned that about 90 percent of convictions are based on confessions; that the criteria used for the selection of cases to be tried by these courts are not clear; that defendants are not given the right to appoint legal counsel of their own choosing in practice or an effective right to appeal in the civilian courts; and that the charges against the defendants, the nature of evidence, and written judgments explaining the reasons for conviction are not made public. It is further concerned that the military courts allegedly convicted at least five “missing persons” whose cases were being investigated by the Commission of Inquiry on Enforced Disappearances (arts. 2, 6, 7, 9, 14 and 15). 
24. The State party should (a) review the legislation relating to the military courts with a view to abrogating their jurisdiction over civilians as well as their authority to impose the death penalty; (b) reform the military courts to bring their proceedings into full conformity with Articles 14 and 15 of the Covenant to ensure a fair trial.
Emphasis in original.

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