Monday, December 21, 2020

Pakistan's military courts -- a status report

Dawn has this helpful report on the state of pending Supreme Court and High Court cases that challenge decisions of Pakistan's military courts. Excerpt:
A bench headed by then chief justice Waqar Seth on Oct 18, 2018, accepted 75 other writ petitions of military court convicts and had set aside their convictions and sentences mostly including death penalties. Subsequently, the court on June 16, 2020, accepted 198 writ petitions filed mostly by close relatives of the military court convicts, majority of whom were sentenced to death or life imprisonment on account of different acts of terrorism.
The Supreme Court had suspended the said judgments of the high court of 2018 and 2020 over appeals filed by the government and the main appeals have still been pending. Similarly, several appeals filed by convicts, who were not provided relief by the high court earlier, have also been pending before the Supreme Court.
Recently, a PHC bench comprising Justice Lal Jan Khattak and Justice Mohammad Ibrahim Khan took up for hearing around 140 petitions on Dec 8 against military courts’ convictions. The bench had adjourned hearing of these cases to Jan 14, 2021, with the direction to the ministry of defence to produce record in these cases for perusal of the petitioners’ lawyers on Dec 12 and Dec 19.
Pakistan is one of a handful of countries that have used military courts extensively to prosecute civilians. This violates human rights jurisprudence.

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