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Pakistan lawmakers allow military courts to prosecute terrorism cases

[JURIST] Pakistan's parliament passed legislation on Tuesday that will enable military courts to prosecute terrorism-related cases, the latest in a series of anti-terrorism government efforts in the wake of the school massacre [JURIST report] by the Pakistani Taliban (TTP) last month in Peshawar. The Pakistan National Assembly [official website] passed the 21st Constitutional Amendment Bill and the Pakistan Army (Amendment) Bill 2015 unopposed, securing the two-thirds majority needed to amend the constitution. The legislation is designed [RFE/RL report] to hasten the trials of suspected terrorists and insulate the judicial process from political and procedural intimidation. Lawmakers from the Jamat-e-Islami and Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam Fazal [GlobalSecurity backgrounders] religious parties abstained from the votes. The bills will now be sent to President Mamnoon Hussain [official profile] to be signed into law, and if so, the law will be in effect for two years.

The TTP have a history of armed rebellion against the Pakistani government and have sought to overthrow the authorities and impose Sharia law. As the main place of operations of the Taliban [JURIST news archive], Pakistan has been a focal point of global anti-terrorism efforts. Last month Pakistan reinstated the death penalty [JURIST report] in terrorism-related cases. In July Pakistan passed [JURIST report] a strict anti-terrorism bill that allowed police to use lethal force, to search buildings without a warrant and to detain suspects at secret facilities for up to 60 days without charge "on reasonable apprehension of commission of a scheduled offense." Last year Sharif claimed [JURIST report] that the country's anti-terrorism laws would be amended to more effectively combat modern threats.

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