Thursday, October 24, 2013

PAKISTAN: New draconian laws provide legal cover to disappearances, extrajudicial killings, torture, & unfair trial

The government of Pakistan has – within a short period of less than two weeks – promulgated two draconian laws, ostensibly, to combat terrorism. The first ordinance was promulgated on October 11. It has amended the Anti-Terrorist Act, 1997, and curtailed fundamental rights of citizens. Now the government has gone ahead and promulgated another ordinance on October 20. This one is called "Pakistan Protection Ordinance." It hands even greater powers to law enforcement authorities (LEA). Now LEA can enter and search any premises without warrant and confiscate any property without permission from any lawful authority. The ill intentions of the government have not been disguised. Parliament, and thereby open debate on the provisions of law, has been avoided to unilaterally push through these decisions. Both ordinances are manifestly ultra virus and unconstitutional. The October 11 ordinance, which amends the Anti-Terrorist Act, 1997, provides extraordinary powers to LEA. It allows LEA to detain suspects up to three months, and thereby to curb the process of fair trial by such long detention. It allows for conviction on the basis of incriminating text messages, phone calls, and email. It grants LEA powers to shoot at sight. Telephones and internet facilities can be freely tapped and monitored. The ordinance has become a grave threat to right to privacy.

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