Amnesty International South Asia has once again expressed concerns over Pakistan’s use of military courts to try civilians, terming it a clear violation of international law.
According to the details, the human rights watchdog made the remarks on Twitter just days after responding to the press release published by the Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR) indicating the Pakistan military’s intention to bring ‘arsonists’ during last week’s violent protests to trial under the Pakistan Army Act and Official Secret Act.
Taking to Twitter, Amnesty International South Asia highlighted that existing criminal laws contain provisions to prosecute offenses such as vandalism and destruction of public property. It further emphasized that the practice of trying civilians under military courts undermines the right to a fair trial guaranteed by Pakistan’s Constitution and cannot be justified.
Read more: Business community stands with Pak Army, calls for political unity
“Pakistan: Using military courts to try civilians is a clear violation of international law. There are several provisions under ordinary criminal laws that can be used to prosecute vandalism and destruction of public property. The right to a fair trial, guaranteed by Pakistan’s constitution, is severely undermined by this move and cannot be justified. It must be struck down immediately,” Amnesty International said.
Pakistan: Using military courts to try civilians is a clear violation of international law. There are several provisions under ordinary criminal laws that can be used to prosecute vandalism and destruction of public property. The right to a fair trial, guaranteed by Pakistan’s… https://t.co/n5jV0PJfZi
— Amnesty International South Asia, Regional Office (@amnestysasia) May 18, 2023
On May 9th, violent protests were triggered in Pakistan after PTI Chairman Imran Khan was sent to jail in the Al-Qadir Trust case. Clashes erupted between protestors and the police authorities which also resulted in attacks on state and military property, for instance, the GHQ.
In response, Pakistan military’s top brass deliberated upon the recent law and order situation that a political party’s leadership exploited for political gains and vowed to deal with them in the strongest possible terms, which includes justice through trial under relevant laws of the country, including Pakistan Army Act and Official Secrets Act.
However, the decision has been condemned by the Pakistani public and human rights bodies as trying civilians under military law would blur the separation of powers between the military and civilian institutions, while potentially violating the rights of civilians.
Read more: Trials under Army Act: Netizens react to military’s strong stand against protesters