The federal government asked the concerned ministries and departments to take "requisite legislative, policy and administrative measures" in accordance with the recommendations of the United Nations (UN), calling for the termination of military courts and limiting the role of the army in civil spheres, DawnNews reported on Thursday.The UN recommendations are those set forth in the Human Rights Committee's August 23, 2017 Concluding Observations as part of Pakistan's Universal Periodic Review. The Concluding Observations stated in pertinent part:
23. The Committee is concerned by the extension of the jurisdiction of military courts to cases transferred from the antiterrorism 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 some 90 per cent 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, nor an effective right of appeal to the civilian courts; and that the charges against the defendants, the nature of evidence and the written judgments explaining the reasons for conviction are not made public. The Committee is further concerned that the military courts have 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 and their authority to impose the death penalty and (b) reform the military courts to bring their proceedings into full conformity with articles 14 and 15 of the [International] Covenant [on Civil and Political Rights] in order to ensure a fair trial.