The federal government asked the concerned ministries and departments to take "requisite legislative, policy and administrative measures" in accordance with the recommendations of the United Nations (UN), calling for the termination of military courts and limiting the role of the army in civil spheres, DawnNews reported on Thursday.
The UN had urged Islamabad to ensure the implementation of 111 recommendations in accordance with its human rights conventions. The Ministry of Human Rights forwarded the recommendations to the relevant departments and ministries for further action.
According to an "office memorandum" issued by the human rights ministry, a copy of which is available with DawnNews, Pakistan has ratified seven "core human rights conventions". Subsequently, four progress reports were prepared and submitted before the relevant UN bodies through the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
A high-level delegation led by the human rights minister presented and defended these reports before the concerned UN committees in the review meetings, held during 2016 and 2017. The UN committees, while reviewing the obligatory reports, had made concluding observations and recommendations.
Based on the recommendations put forward by the UN committees in this regard, the human rights ministry compiled a matrix and forwarded it to all concerned ministries and departments, asking them to take "requisite legislative, policy and administrative measures".
According to the document, the UN asked Islamabad to immediately put a moratorium on the capital punishment and eventually "consider abolishing the death penalty". In addition to this, if ineluctable, the death penalties should not be imposed by the military courts — particularly in cases involving civilians.
The UN also recommended that the death penalty should only be awarded for the most serious crimes, involving intentional killings.
The UN committees also recommended to "repeal or amend Actions in Aid of Civil Power Regulations 2011 in order to abolish the military's power to establish internment centres in the Federally Administrated Tribal Areas (Fata) and Provincially Administrated Tribal Areas (Pata)". It also urged Islamabad to ensure that no one is held in secret or incommunicado detention anywhere in the country.
The UN has suggested making amendments in the Army Act 2015 in order to eliminate retrospective immunity and clarify that anyone committing acts of torture will be subjected to criminal prosecutions.
The committees also recommended to strengthen the powers of the National Commission and ensure that it is able to investigate all cases or torture and ill-treatment committed by any entity carrying out arrest and detentions in the country, including intelligence agencies and armed forces.
According to the document, the global rights body recommended taking effective measures to mitigate the "intensified hostility towards Afghan refugees by police and security forces". The government was also asked to "expedite the adoption of national refugee law and a voluntary repatriation policy on Afghan refugees".
The UN body also recommended to abolish the role of military courts or at least limit their role. Those who are convicted by a military court should be provided with a right to appeal against the sentence before a civil court, it was recommended.
The body also recommended granting permission to local and international non-governmental organisations to make official and unannounced visits to all detention centres. According to the document, it was also recommended to "end the use of paramilitary forces to carry out law enforcement tasks".