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ADPAN – Media Statement 24/1/2019
Pakistan Must Not Extend Term of Military Courts, and ensure Right to Fair Trial is respected
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.
ADPAN calls for the abolition of the death penalty, and urge Pakistan to re-introduce a moratorium on executions pending abolition of the death penalty.
ADPAN Executive Committee
24 January 2019
The Anti-Death Penalty Asia Network (ADPAN) is a regional network of organization and individual members committed to working for the abolition of the death penalty in Asia-Pacific. [Website: https://adpan.org/ ; Email: firstname.lastname@example.org ]
After a record number of UN member states today supported at the final vote a key UN General Assembly resolution calling for a moratorium on executions with a view to abolishing the death penalty, Amnesty International’s Death Penalty Expert Chiara Sangiorgio said:
“The fact that more countries than ever before have voted to end executions shows that global abolition of the death penalty is becoming an inevitable reality. A death penalty-free world is closer than ever.
“This vote sends yet another important signal that more and more countries are willing to take steps to end this cruel, inhuman and degrading punishment once and for all.
“The result also shows the increasing isolation of the 35 countries that voted against the resolution. Those countries still retaining the death penalty should immediately establish a moratorium on executions as a first step towards full abolition.”
121 of the UN’s 193 member states voted in favour of the seventh resolution on a moratorium on the use of the death penalty at the UNGA plenary session in New York, while 35 voted against and 32 abstained. 117 had done so in December 2016. This resolution was proposed by Brazil on behalf of an Inter-Regional Task Force of member states and co-sponsored by 83 states.
For the first time, Dominica, Libya, Malaysia and Pakistan changed their vote to support the resolution, while Antigua and Barbuda, Guyana and South Sudan moved from opposition to abstention. Equatorial Guinea, Gambia, Mauritius, Niger, and Rwanda once again voted in favour of the call for a moratorium on executions, having not done so in 2016.
Five countries reversed their 2016 votes, with Nauru moving from vote in favour to vote against and Bahrain and Zimbabwe switching from abstention to opposition. Congo and Guinea changed from voting in favour to abstention.
When the UN was founded in 1945 only eight of the then 51 UN member states had abolished the death penalty. Today, 103 of 193 member states have abolished the death penalty for all crimes, and 139 have abolished the death penalty in law or practice. In 2017 executions were reported in 22 UN member states, 11% of the total. Amnesty International opposes the death penalty in all cases without exception. – Amnesty International, 17/12/2018