The Anti – Death Penalty Asia Network (ADPAN) expresses grave concern at the news that the Government of Pakistan is contemplating extending the term of military courts for a further period of two years which is ended on January 7, this year.
Military Courts were established through a constitutional amendment in January 2015 initially for a two year period but this tenure was further extended for another two years in 2017. Since the introduction, military courts have so far disposed of 546 cases and have awarded death sentences to 310 convicts while 234 have been handed various terms of rigorous imprisonment.
For ADPAN, one of the most troubling aspects of the military courts is its high conviction rate, with the secrecy and the questionable procedures adopted by the military courts to ensure “speedy Justice”.
Quite a number of convictions by the military courts are based on confessions which it-self is an indication as to how due process and international fair trial standards have been compromised by these military courts. The recent judgment of the Peshawar High Court, setting aside the sentence of 74 alleged terrorists convicted by military courts is a glaring example of the compromised process and injustice being meted out by these military courts.
Pakistan resort to military courts has time and again proved that how this is catastrophic for human rights and rule of law in Pakistan. Trials in military courts are held in secret without the right or access to lawyer of one’s choice, Judgments are without exact charges and lacks reasoning. Even the National Commission for Human Rights was not been given access to observe trials at military courts.
ADPAN, urges the Government of Pakistan to adhere to its obligations imposed by Article 10-A of the Constitution of Pakistan, Article 10 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) and Article 14 of the International Covenant on Civil & Political Rights (both of which call for independent and impartial tribunal) by reforming its criminal justice system and avoid using anti-human rights ad-hoc arrangements like these military courts.
Further, ADPAN calls upon the Government of Pakistan to send all the decided cases of the military courts to the ordinary courts of appeal for review. ADPAN calls for the abolition of the military courts, and that all persons be accorded the right to a fair trial in the ordinary criminal courts.