South Asians for Human Rights

Promoting Democracy, Upholding Human Rights

Published in The Nation on Dec. 27 ::

The Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP) has expressed its serious concern over the decision to set up special courts to be headed by military officials to try terrorism cases.

In a statement issued on Friday HRCP said; “The Commission is dismayed that all political parties supported this unfortunate decision, although some had earlier expressed reservations. HRCP has a number of concerns over this move.

“Firstly, the decision undermines the judiciary and shows lack of confidence in an independent and strong judicial system in the country. It must be noted that the superior judiciary has, several times in the past, ruled that military courts are unconstitutional. 

“Secondly, trying civilians in military courts has always been a controversial issue and again one that the superior judiciary has opposed. The system of ‘speedy justice’ has never proved to be fair and often not speedy.

“Thirdly, it is feared that political dissidents, particularly in Balochistan and Sindh, could become the targets of military courts.

“HRCP believes that the need instead is to reform and strengthen the system of investigation and prosecution. Reforms should include more scientific methods of investigation, rather than torture and coercion, as well as witness protection programs and better security for lawyers, judges and witnesses. The hasty decision is all the more questionable as the Supreme Court itself is attempting to expedite cases of terrorism.”