LAHORE: The Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP) has taken strong exception to the recent resolution passed by the National Assembly calling for the May 9 rioters trial and conviction under the Pakistan Army Act 1952.

In a statement on Tuesday, HRCP expressed concern over the use of the words “without a delay of even a single day” in the NA resolution, saying it seem to imply that the government is willing to sacrifice the right to fair trial, transparency and due process on the altar of political expediency.

It says the HRCP believes that all those who grossly abused their right to freedom of peaceful assembly and engaged in arson, vandalism and destruction, must be held strictly accountable.

However, it say that this accountability should not be applied arbitrarily to relatively easy targets in the form of low-ranking party workers and bystanders.

Regardless, the process must take place under civilian laws and in civilian-run courts where fair trial standards are far more likely to be upheld than in military courts, it demanded.

Moreover, it says that contrary to the resolution’s claim, civilians tried under the Pakistan Army Act 1952 do not have the right of appeal to civilian courts, whose role is restricted to exercising narrow powers of judicial review in such cases.

In the long term, as HRCP has been warning successive governments time and again that defending military courts as a quick solution is tantamount not only to shrugging off responsibility for the recent breakdown in law and order, but also to undermining civilian supremacy in general.

Published in Dawn, June 14th, 2023

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