Top Pak­istan judges back con­tro­ver­sial mil­i­tary courts

The China Post - - INTERNATIONAL -

Pak­istan’s Supreme Court on Wed­nes­day ap­proved con­tro­ver­sial new mil­i­tary courts set up to hear terror cases, re­ject­ing an at­tempt to have them ruled illegal.

Law­mak­ers had voted in Jan­uary to amend the con­sti­tu­tion to es­tab­lish the mil­i­tary courts, as part of a crack­down on mil­i­tancy fol­low­ing a Tal­iban mas­sacre at a school which left more than 150 peo­ple — mostly chil­dren — dead.

The move prompted con­cern from rights ac­tivists and in April a group of lawyers chal­lenged the con­sti­tu­tional amend­ment.

A 17- mem­ber bench of the Supreme Court on Wed­nes­day dis- missed their pe­ti­tion by 11 votes to six.

In his de­tailed judg­ment Chief Jus­tice Nasir- ul- Mulk said the court did not have the power to strike down con­sti­tu­tional amend­ments made by the elected par­lia­ment.

But he said the de­ci­sion to send a case for trial by mil­i­tary court and “any or­der passed or de­ci­sion taken or sen­tence awarded” could be sub­ject to ju­di­cial re­view in a nor­mal court.

Prime Min­is­ter Nawaz Sharif wel­comed the rul­ing, say­ing the “un­usual step” of set­ting up mil­i­tary courts was nec­es­sary to de­feat mil­i­tants.

“This de­ci­sion will dis­cour­age ter­ror­ism in the coun­try,” he told par­lia­ment.

Kam­ran Mur­taza, a for­mer Pres­i­dent of the Supreme Court Bar As­so­ci­a­tion and a pe­ti­tioner in the case, told AFP they would con­sider ask­ing the court to re­view its de­ci­sion.

“We stated in our pe­ti­tions that the mat­ter of mil­i­tary courts is not in ac­cor­dance with the con­sti­tu­tion and it is against hu­man rights,” Mur­taza said.

“It af­fects the ba­sic struc­ture and in­de­pen­dence of ju­di­ciary it­self.”

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

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

The In­ter­na­tional Com­mis­sion of Ju­rists on Wed­nes­day con­demned the mil­i­tary courts as “se­cret, opaque” and in vi­o­la­tion of fair trial obli­ga­tions.

The army an­nounced the first ver­dicts and sen­tences from the new courts in April. 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.

The Supreme Court sus­pended the sen­tences while it heard the le­gal chal­lenge to the courts.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Taiwan

© PressReader. All rights reserved.