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Pakistan president signs new law allowing military courts to prosecute terror suspects

[JURIST] Pakistan President Mamnoon Hussain [official website] on Wednesday signed into law anti-terrorism legislation that will establish military courts for the hearing of civilian terrorism related cases. The president's signature comes one day after the Pakistan National Assembly [official website] passed [JURIST report] the 21st Constitutional Amendment Bill and the Pakistan Army (Amendment) Bill 2015 unopposed, securing the two-thirds majority needed to amend the constitution. The law has drawn criticism from international human rights advocates. The International Commission of Jurists [advocacy website] has condemned the law calling [press release] the ability for military courts to prosecute civilians, "a serious blow to human rights and rule of law in the country." The law will remain in effect [VOA report] for two years.

This law is the latest in a series of anti-terrorism government efforts in the wake of the school massacre [JURIST report] by the Pakistani Taliban last month in Peshawar which killed 134 children along with 16 staff members. 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." Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif [BBC profile] claimed [JURIST report] in September 2013 that the country's anti-terrorism laws would be amended to more effectively combat modern threats.

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