Conflicts & War

Pakistan urged not to try civilians in military courts

Islamabad, May 31 (EFE).– Human Rights Watch Wednesday urged Pakistan not to try riots accused civilians in military courts in violation of international human rights laws.

The right group asked the government to transfer the accused to the civilian justice system.

“Trying civilians before military courts violates Pakistan’s obligations under international human rights law to ensure the due process and fair trial rights of criminal suspects,” an HRW statement said.

The Pakistan police have arrested 33 civilians suspected of attacking sensitive defense installations and damaging government properties.

The police have handed the suspects to the army for trial in military courts.

Pakistani law allows trying civilians in military courts in narrowly defined circumstances, including for inciting mutiny, spying, and taking photographs of the so-called prohibited places.

“The Pakistani government has a responsibility to prosecute those committing violence but only in independent and impartial civilian courts,” Patricia Gossman, associate Asia director at Human Rights Watch, said.

“Pakistan’s military courts, which use secret procedures that deny due process rights, should not be used to prosecute civilians, even for crimes against the military.”

The cases relate to the violence that swept across Pakistan on May 9, 2023, after the police arrested former prime minister Imran Khan on corruption charges.

Mobs attacked police officers and set fire to ambulances, police vehicles, and schools.

Among the places attacked were the military headquarters and other offices in Rawalpindi and the houses of senior military officials.

The police have arrested thousands of members of Khan’s Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf party on charges of criminal intimidation, rioting, and assault on government officials.

According to the government, the defendants reserved the right to appeal to the civilian high courts and Supreme Court.

“Denying people a fair trial is not the answer to Pakistan’s complex security and political challenges,” Gossman said.

“Strengthening the civilian courts and upholding the rule of law is the message the Pakistani government should send as an effective and powerful response to violence.” EFE


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