Sunday, December 23, 2018

Some straight talk out of Pakistan

Soon after the APS [Army Public School] incident, during an All Parties Conference and at the floor of parliament, the flawed justice system was not only acknowledged, there was also a call for cogent reforms. Among the core conditions for passing the 21st Amendment was also that the government would bring about tangible reforms and strengthen the justice system. Consequently, within a week, the government implemented point 2 of NAP [National Action Plan] by empowering military courts for the trial of civilians. However, reforms in the justice system have to date been placed on the back burner. 
At the time that military courts were established for civilians’ trials, it was correctly argued by rights activists that such temporary measures may in the long term be a threat to the legal due process and rule of law in the country. Secondly, they would also have a corrosive impact on Pakistan’s struggle to create an “independent and strong judicial system”. But as this was also part of NAP, the government didn’t listen to the concerns raised by human rights bodies nationally as well as internationally, and the amendment was implemented.
From this op-ed by Peshawar attorney Irshad Ahmad in The News International

After going on four years with unfulfilled promises to fix the civilian criminal justice system, Pakistan should bite the bullet by simply (a) letting the military courts authorization expire and (b) rolling up its sleeves and actually do what needs to be done to fix the civilian courts. The good news is that the Pakistan Peoples Party has announced that it will oppose another extension.

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