News / Asia

Pakistan’s Anti-Terror Law Angers Rights Groups

A grieving woman is comforted outside a hospital morgue, where the bodies of victims of a twin suicide bombing were taken, Islamabad, March 3, 2014.
A grieving woman is comforted outside a hospital morgue, where the bodies of victims of a twin suicide bombing were taken, Islamabad, March 3, 2014.
Ayaz Gul

International and local human rights groups are demanding Pakistan discard its new anti-terrorism law, condemning it as “a blatant attack” on fundamental rights of the people. But the government is defending the legislation as necesary to tackle “the menace of terrorism” that has plagued Pakistan for years.

The national parliament approved the Protection of Pakistan Act this week, giving sweeping powers to security forces targeting violent extremism and terrorism. Police officers now have sweeping powers to open fire on suspects, and also allows anyone detained for questioning to be held for up to 60 days before charges must be brought. 

The legislation has outraged human rights defenders in and outside the country.

In a statement Friday, the independent Human Rights Commission of Pakistan said the government is “deliberately following the model of a police state.” It also criticized parliament for failing to block the anti-terrorism law.

Rights activist Tahira Abduallah says the new law violates international and domestic norms by allowing police to enter homes and arrest people without a warrant, and puts the burden of proving innocence on those who are accused, rather than obliging the state to prove suspects are guilty.

“I think this is a very, very draconian law," Abduallah said. "It has been done with bad intent. It is giving a free hand to the police forces of Pakistan and perhaps even the paramilitary forces to legalize illegal fake encounters and to legalize extra-judicial killings, which are now going to increase.”

New York-based Human Rights Watch criticized the counter-terrorism law for threatening basic rights and freedoms, and said it violates of Pakistan’s international legal obligations. It calls the legislation is "vague and overboard" and gives the government a “green light for abusing suspects in detention, which is already far too common in Pakistan."

Ruling party lawmaker Omar Ayub dismissed those critics, however, arguing the threat of terrorism confronting Pakistan requires extraordinary steps to punish those waging war against the state. The law, he said, will be a temporary measure, probably lasting only about two years.

“We are facing terrorism," said Ayub. "We are facing people who have come from other countries, [they are] illegal in Pakistan and are using our sovereign soil for perpetuating acts of terror which cannot be allowed by any sovereign country. And once we tackle these people the law will itself die its death.”

Parliament voted the Protection of Pakistan Act into law at a time when deadly anti-state attacks are increasing. The military has launched a retaliatory offensive against Pakistani Taliban sanctuaries in North Waziristan, a major source of domestic and international terrorism.

Human Rights Watch and Pakistani critics say they are worried that the "loose language" of the law could be used to crack down on peaceful political protest and bring charges against those who merely criticize government policies.

Analysts contend that strengthening Pakistan's anti-terrorist laws is not the most critical issue. Progress against militants will only come when the police are adequately trained to gather evidence and prepare charges, and protected from political influence and corruption, they say.

Convictions in trials of high-profile militants are rare in Pakistan as a result of deeply rooted corruption in law-enforcement institutions as well as a lack of protection for witnesses, judges and prosecutors, who are often subjected to death threats.

You May Like

Ebola Death Toll Nears 5,000 as Virus Advances

West Africa bears heaviest burden; Mali toddler’s death raises new fears More

Jordan’s Battle With Islamic State Militants Carries Domestic Risks

Despite Western concerns that IS militants are preparing a Jordanian offensive, analysts call the kingdom's solid intel a strong deterrent More

Asian-Americans Assume Office in Record Numbers

Steadily deepening engagement in local politics pays off for politicians like Chinese-American Judy Chu More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: P.Parimoo from: Ahmedabad
July 09, 2014 10:37 AM
Why have these "humanitarian groups" been silent when the people living amongst them spread a reign of terror.A terror so intense and widespread that the world has been blaming Pakistan for not taking any action or even collaborating with these elements. Will these groups be happy if the authorities turn a blind eye to the lurking danger for the Pakistani nation?


by: chisenga from: Zambia
July 05, 2014 6:11 AM
Failed state.


by: Muhammad Yaqub Shah from: Peshawar
July 05, 2014 12:41 AM
If one goes back in to the short history of Pakistani politicians, almost every one has become a ruthless dictator after getting powers. With the passing of this bill they will get yet another powerful weapon to crush their opponents on the pretext of killing terrorists and when the opponents get power they will go for revenge with the same weapon. This is for sure. Moreover passing of such legislation has no space at all in any norms of the democracy. Here an important questions arises that do we posses basic qualifications to execute a democratic system?

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Talks to Resume on Winter Gas for Ukrainei
X
Al Pessin
October 25, 2014 4:21 PM
Ukrainian and Russian officials will meet again next week in an effort to settle their dispute over natural gas supplies that threatens to leave Ukraine short of heating fuel for the coming winter. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London the dispute is complex, and has both economic and geopolitical dimensions.
Video

Video Talks to Resume on Winter Gas for Ukraine

Ukrainian and Russian officials will meet again next week in an effort to settle their dispute over natural gas supplies that threatens to leave Ukraine short of heating fuel for the coming winter. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London the dispute is complex, and has both economic and geopolitical dimensions.
Video

Video Smugglers Offer Cheap Passage From Turkey to Syria

Smugglers in Turkey offer a relatively cheap passage across the border into Syria. Ankara has stepped up efforts to stem the flow of foreign fighters who want to join Islamic State militants fighting for control of the Syrian border city of Kobani. But porous borders and border guards who can be bribed make illegal border crossings quite easy. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video Comanche Chief Quanah Parker’s Century-Old House Falling Apart

One of the most fascinating people in U.S. history was Quanah Parker, the last chief of the American Indian tribe, the Comanche. He was the son of a Comanche warrior and a white woman who had been captured by the Indians. Parker was a fierce warrior until 1875 when he led his people to Fort Sill, Oklahoma, and took on a new, peaceful life. As VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Cache, Oklahoma, Quanah’s image remains strong among his people, but part of his heritage is in danger of disappearing.
Video

Video China Political Meeting Seeks to Improve Rule of Law

China’s communist leaders will host a top level political meeting this week, called the Fourth Plenum, and for the first time in the party’s history, rule of law will be a key item on the agenda. Analysts and Chinese media reports say the meetings could see the approval of long-awaited measures aimed at giving courts more independence and include steps to enhance an already aggressive and high-reaching anti-corruption drive. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.
Video

Video After Decades of Pressure, Luxembourg Drops Bank Secrecy Rules

European Union finance ministers have reached a breakthrough agreement that will make it more difficult for tax cheats to hide their money. The new legislation, which had been blocked for years by countries with a reputation as tax havens, was approved last week after Luxembourg and Austria agreed to lift their vetoes. But as Mil Arcega reports, it doesn’t mean tax cheats have run out of places to keep their money hidden.
Video

Video Kobani Refugees Welcome, Turkey Criticizes, US Airdrop

Residents of Kobani in northern Syria have welcomed the airdrop of weapons, ammunition and medicine to Kurdish militia who are resisting the seizure of their city by Islamic State militants. The Turkish government, however, has criticized the operation. VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from southeastern Turkey, across the border from Kobani.
Video

Video US ‘Death Cafes’ Put Focus on the Finale

In contemporary America, death usually is a topic to be avoided. But the growing “death café” movement encourages people to discuss their fears and desires about their final moments. VOA’s Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Ebola Orphanage Opens in Sierra Leone

Sierra Leone's first Ebola orphanage has opened in the Kailahun district. Hundreds of children orphaned since the beginning of the Ebola outbreak face stigma and rejection with nobody to care for them. Adam Bailes reports for VOA about a new interim care center that's aimed at helping the growing number of children affected by Ebola.

All About America

AppleAndroid