Thursday, April 16, 2015

Death sentences awarded by military courts challenged

Thursday, April 16, 2015 

ISLAMABAD: The Supreme Court Bar Association (SCBA) on Wednesday challenged the death sentences awarded by the military courts to six militants on terror charges.

Noor Saeed, Haider Ali, Murad Khan, Inayatullah, Israruddin and Qari Zahir were awarded death sentences by the military courts, established under the 21st Amendment to the Constitution and Pakistan Army Act 1952. The SCBA, filed appeal through Asma Jahangir, praying to the apex court to pass an interim order staying the execution of the persons, convicted to death by the military courts, till the final disposal of the constitution petition. It also prayed that as the guardian of the Constitution, the apex court has to ensure the Fundamental Rights.

It was contended in the petition that those who were awarded death sentences are vulnerable because if they are executed it will be irreversible. The SCBA has already challenged the Pakistan Army (Amendment) Act 2015 and sought the interpretation of 21st Amendment to the Constitution, saying its operation and outcome conflict with the fundamental rights.

The SCBA submitted that only the names of the accused/convicts were given in the media and there was no other information available. “The 21st Amendment by itself does not dismiss observance of fundamental rights guaranteed in the Constitution.”

The petitioners contended that despite efforts they were unable to obtain information whether articles 10, 10A, 12, 13 and 14 were applied during the trial process in the military courts.

they questioned were the persons arrested enemy aliens? If they were not enemy aliens, were the accused informed of the grounds for such arrest? Were the accused given the right to consult and be defended by a lawyer of his choice? Was the accused produced before a magistrate with a period of 24 hours?

The SCBA apprehended that the rights of the accused were not protected through a fair trial and by observing the established principles of due process, as guaranteed in Article 10A. The petitioner also apprehended that protection against retrospective punishment was not extended to the accused persons.

Asma Jahangir questioned was the accused persons compelled to be a witness against themselves? Was the accused tortured for the purpose of extracting evidence? She stated that all these factors are crucial for protecting individuals against arbitrary trial.

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