Pakistan Assembly votes to continue use of military courts on terrorism suspects

Pakistan Assembly votes to continue use of military courts on terrorism suspects

The Pakistan National Assembly voted [bulletin, PDF] Tuesday to renew an amendment [text, PDF] to the country’s constitution [text] that allows military tribunals to oversee civilians accused of terrorist-related crimes. Pakistan first made the amendment following an attack [Al Jazeera report] on a school in 2014. But critics, such as Human Rights Watch (HRW) [advocacy website] have called [press release] on Pakistan to end the use of military court on civilians, saying it violates the the rule of law and creates human rights abuses.

The Pakistani government has a responsibility to prosecute those committing violent attacks, but secret, rights-violating military courts raise serious questions as to whether justice is being done…Generating confidence in Pakistan’s criminal justice system and abiding by the rule of law means bringing those responsible for militant attacks before independence and impartial civilian courts.

The measure is one of many recent measures impacting the country this year. Pakistan President Mamnoon Hussain signed into law [JURIST report] the Hindu Marriage Bill 2017 on Sunday, allowing Pakistan’s Hindus to regulate their own marriages. Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif stated [JURIST report] in March that blasphemy is an “unpardonable offense” and ordered the state to remove such content from social media. The Pakistani Cabinet [official website] in March approved a five-year plan [JURIST report] to bring political reforms to the tribal areas of the country.