Pak­istan’s top court stays mil­i­tary court ex­e­cu­tions

The China Post - - GUIDE POST -

Pak­istan’s Supreme Court on Thurs­day stayed ex­e­cu­tions handed down by the coun­try’s con­tro­ver­sial new mil­i­tary courts, set up in the wake of a Tal­iban massacre at a school.

Law­mak­ers ap­proved a change to the coun­try’s con­sti­tu­tion in Jan­uary to es­tab­lish mil­i­tary courts to deal with ter­ror­ism cases, prompt­ing con­cern from lawyers and rights ac­tivists.

The move came as part of gov­ern­ment ef­forts to crack down on mil­i­tants fol­low­ing the school slaugh­ter in De­cem­ber which left more than 150 peo­ple dead — Pak­istan’s blood­i­est ever ter­ror attack.

The army an­nounced the first ver­dicts and sen­tences from the new courts ear­lier this month. Six mil­i­tants were con­demned to death and an­other jailed for life, all on ter­ror­ism charges, though scant de­tails of the of­fences and tri­als were given.

A 17-judge panel headed by Chief Jus­tice Nasir-ul-Mulk suspended the ex­e­cu­tions on Thurs­day, af­ter the Supreme Court Bar As­so­ci­a­tion chal­lenged the con­sti­tu­tional amend­ment that cre­ated the mil­i­tary courts.

Prom­i­nent rights lawyer Asma Jehangir, who filed a sep­a­rate pe­ti­tion against the se­crecy sur­round­ing the mil­i­tary tri­als, said on­go­ing tri­als be­ing heard by the new tri­bunals would con­tinue.

“The court has not suspended hear­ing and tri­als in other cases,” she told re­porters.

“We are against th­ese kan­ga­roo courts, we will chal­lenge other tri­als if it is proven that th­ese courts are against the ba­sic hu­man rights.”

The Supreme Court or­der said those con­victed by mil­i­tary courts had the right to ap­peal and di­rected the at­tor­ney gen- eral to file a re­ply in the case by April 22.

Ear­lier Jehangir told the court that fam­i­lies of those con­victed were not even told the tri­als were go­ing on, and only learned about them through me­dia re­ports.

Se­nior lawyer and re­tired Col. Inam-urRehman, who has de­fended cases be­fore the mil­i­tary courts, hailed Thurs­day’s rul­ing as a “great achieve­ment.”

“It shows that the ju­di­ciary is per­form­ing its role in­de­pen­dently and no par­al­lel ju­di­ciary can be al­lowed to work in the coun­try,” he said.

He said ter­ror­ists should be tried and if found guilty ex­e­cuted, but only through a free and fair trial.

Par­lia­ment has ap­proved the use of the courts for two years, and cases are re­ferred to them by pro­vin­cial gov­ern­ments.

But some have called for the tri­als to be more trans­par­ent.

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