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

Video Analysts: Beijing Parade a 'Bazaar' of Stolen Technology

Show commemorating victory over Japan in World War II involved long, medium and short range missiles, a range of tanks and 200 fighter aircraft More

Bernie Sanders Surge Reflects US Shift on Socialism

Although most analysts say it is unlikely he will get the Democratic nomination, Sanders' campaign opens up questions and issues that are otherwise marginalized More

Video On IS Frontline, Kurdish Fighters Ready for Offensive

Peshmerga soldiers say although they need more heavy artillery, they are poised to take the fight to the Islamic State extremists on their turf 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.
Drowned Migrant Toddler Photo Triggers European Outragei
X
Henry Ridgwell
September 04, 2015 11:36 AM
The harrowing picture of a drowned three-year-old Syrian boy washed up on a Turkish beach appears to have galvanized Europe’s leaders into doing more to address the refugee crisis. France, Germany and Italy issued a joint call Thursday for compulsory quotas of refugees for all EU states. But there were chaotic scenes in Hungary as police tried to force migrants off a train heading for Austria. Henry Ridgwell has more. And a caution, some of the images in this report may be disturbing.
Video

Video Drowned Migrant Toddler Photo Triggers European Outrage

The harrowing picture of a drowned three-year-old Syrian boy washed up on a Turkish beach appears to have galvanized Europe’s leaders into doing more to address the refugee crisis. France, Germany and Italy issued a joint call Thursday for compulsory quotas of refugees for all EU states. But there were chaotic scenes in Hungary as police tried to force migrants off a train heading for Austria. Henry Ridgwell has more. And a caution, some of the images in this report may be disturbing.
Video

Video Russians Observe 11th Anniversary of Beslan School Attack

This week, Russians have been observing the 11th anniversary of the attack by Islamic militants on a school in Russia's North Caucasus region that killed more than 330 hostages, including 186 children. The three-day siege and massacre that started on September 1, 2004 took place in Beslan, a town in the republic of North Ossetia, and is one of the bloodiest terrorist acts ever in Russia. VOA's Mike Richman reports.
Video

Video Native Americans Debate: Father Serra, Saint or Sinner?

Pope Francis will canonize an 18th century missionary to Spanish California during a papal visit to the United States this month.  But some Native Americans have criticized the elevation to sainthood of the missionary priest, Junipero Serra. VOA's Mike O’Sullivan has more from Los Angeles.
Video

Video Calais School Offers Another Face of Europe’s Migrant Crisis

Europe is facing mounting criticism over how it’s handling its biggest migration crisis since World War II. But not all Europeans believe building walls or passing repressive policies are the answer. A school for migrants in the French port city of Calais, is opening doors and building bonds across nationalities. VOA's Lisa Bryant reports.
Video

Video Kurdish Fighters on IS Frontline Ready for Offensive

Finger on the trigger, the Kurdish Peshmerga soldier stared across the dust at a village taken over by Islamic State extremists. The Kurdistan’s Khazir frontline, just 45 minutes from the Islamic State stronghold of Mosul. And at this point, the militants were less than two kilometers away. VOA's Sharon Behn reports.
Video

Video China Announces Troop Cuts at WWII Parade

Chinese President Xi Jinping Thursday announced plans to cut the world’s largest military force by 300,000 troops. The announcement was made during a massive military parade to commemorate victory over Japan in World War II. The event was shunned by most Western leaders and for some is raising fresh concerns about China’s military ambitions. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.
Video

Video Russia-Japan Relations Cool as Putin Visits China for WWII Anniversary

Russian President Vladimir Putin is in Beijing for commemorations of the 70th anniversary of China's WWII victory over Japan. Putin is expected to visit Japan later this year, but tensions between Tokyo and Moscow over islands disputed since the war, and sanctions over Ukraine, could pour cold water on the plan. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports.
Video

Video Yemen ‘on Brink of Disaster’ as Medical Shortages Soar

Aid agencies warn Yemen is on the brink of humanitarian disaster – with up to half a million children facing severe malnutrition, and hospitals running out of basic medicines. There are fears Yemen's civil war could escalate as the coalition led by Saudi Arabia tries to drive back Houthi rebels, who seized control of much of the country earlier this year. Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video Apps Helping Kenyan Businesses Stay Ahead of Counterfeiters

Counterfeit goods in Kenya cost the government as much as $1 billion each year in lost tax revenues. The fake goods also hurt entrepreneurs who find it hard to carve out a niche in the market and retain customers. But as Lenny Ruvaga reports from Nairobi, information technology is being used to try to beat the problem.
Video

Video Nobel Prize Winner Malala Talks to VOA

Nobel Peace Prize winner Malala Yousafzai met with VOA's Deewa service in Washington Sunday to talk about women’s rights and unveil a trailer for her new documentary. VOA's Katherine Gypson has more.
Video

Video War, Drought Threaten Iraq's Marshlands

Iraq's southern wetlands are in crisis. These areas are the spawning ground for Gulf fisheries, a resting place for migrating wildfowl, and source of livelihood for fishermen and herders. Faith Lapidus has more.
Video

Video Colombians Flee Venezuela as Border Crisis Escalates

Hundreds of Colombians have fled Venezuela since last week, amid an escalating border crisis between the two countries. Last week, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro ordered the closure of a key border crossing after smugglers injured three Venezuelan soldiers and a civilian. The president also ordered the deportation of Colombians who are in Venezuela illegally. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video Rebuilding New Orleans' Music Scene

Ten years after Hurricane Katrina inundated New Orleans, threatening to wash away its vibrant musical heritage along with its neighborhoods, the beat goes on. As Bronwyn Benito and Faith Lapidus report, a Musicians' Village is preserving the city's unique sound.
Video

Video In Russia, Auto Industry in Tailspin

Industry insiders say country relies too heavily on imports as inflation cuts too many consumers out of the market. Daniel Schearf has more from Moscow.
Video

Video Scientist Calls Use of Fetal Tissue in Medical Research Essential

An anti-abortion group responsible for secret recordings of workers at a women's health care organization claims the workers shown are offering baby parts for sale, a charge the organization strongly denies. While the selling of fetal tissue is against the law in the United States, abortion and the use of donated fetal tissue for medical research are both legal. VOA’s Julie Taboh reports.

VOA Blogs