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

Turkey: No Ransom Paid for Release of Hostages Held by IS Militants

President Erdogan hails release of hostages as diplomatic success but declines to be drawn on whether their release freed Ankara's hand to take more active stance against insurgents More

Audio Sierra Leone Ends Ebola Lockdown

Health ministry says it has reached 75 percent of its target of visiting 1.5 million homes to locate infected, educate population about virus More

US Pivot to Asia Demands Delicate Balancing Act

As tumult in Middle East distracts Obama administration, efforts to shift American focus eastward appear threatened 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.
Natural Gas Export Plan Divides Maryland Towni
X
Deborah Block
September 21, 2014 2:12 PM
A U.S. power company that has been importing natural gas now wants to export it. If approved, its plant in Lusby, Maryland, would likely be the first terminal on the United States East Coast to export liquefied natural gas from American pipelines. While some residents welcome the move because it will create jobs, others oppose it, saying the expansion could be a safety and environmental hazard. VOA’s Deborah Block examines the controversy.
Video

Video Natural Gas Export Plan Divides Maryland Town

A U.S. power company that has been importing natural gas now wants to export it. If approved, its plant in Lusby, Maryland, would likely be the first terminal on the United States East Coast to export liquefied natural gas from American pipelines. While some residents welcome the move because it will create jobs, others oppose it, saying the expansion could be a safety and environmental hazard. VOA’s Deborah Block examines the controversy.
Video

Video Difficult Tactical Battle Ahead Against IS Militants in Syria

The U.S. president has ordered the military to intensify its fight against the Islamic State, including in Syria. But how does the military conduct air strikes in a country that is not a U.S. ally? VOA correspondent Carla Babb reports from the Pentagon.
Video

Video Iran, World Powers Seek Progress in Nuclear Talks

Iran and the five permanent members of the U.N. Security Council plus Germany, known as the P5 + 1, have started a new round of talks on Iran's nuclear program. VOA State Department correspondent Pam Dockins reports that as the negotiations take place in New York, a U.S. envoy is questioning Iran's commitment to peaceful nuclear activity.
Video

Video Alibaba Shares Soar in First Day of Trading

China's biggest online retailer hit the market Friday -- with its share price soaring on the New York Stock Exchange. The shares were priced at $68, but trading stalled at the opening, as sellers held onto their shares, waiting for buyers to bid up the price. More on the world's biggest initial public offering from VOA’s Bernard Shusman in New York.
Video

Video Obama Goes to UN With Islamic State, Ebola on Agenda

President Obama goes to the United Nations General Assembly to rally nations to support a coalition against Islamic State militants in Iraq and Syria. He also will look for nations to back his plan to fight the Ebola virus in West Africa. As VOA White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports, Obama’s efforts reflect new moves by the U.S. administration to take a leading role in addressing world crises.
Video

Video Migrants Caught in No-Man's Land Called Calais

The deaths of hundreds of migrants in the Mediterranean this week has only recast the spotlight on the perils of reaching Europe. And for those forunate enough to reach a place like Calais, France, only find that their problems aren't over. Lisa Bryant has the story.
Video

Video Westgate Siege Anniversary Brings Back Painful Memories

One year after it happened, the survivors of the terror attack on Nairobi's Westgate Shopping Mall still cannot shake the images of that tragic incident. For VOA, Mohammed Yusuf tells the story of victims still waiting for the answer to the question 'how could this happen?'
Video

Video Militant Assault in Syria Displaces Thousands of Kurds

A major assault by Islamic State militants on Kurds in Syria has sent a wave of new refugees to the Turkish border, where they were stopped by Turkish border security. Turkey is already hosting about 700,000 Syrian refugees who fled the civil war between the government and the opposition. But the government in Ankara has a history of strained relations with Turkey's Kurdish minority. Zlatica Hoke reports Turkey is asking for international help.
Video

Video Whaling Summit Votes to Uphold Ban on Japan Whale Hunt

The International Whaling Commission, meeting in Slovenia, has voted to uphold a court ruling banning Japan from hunting whales in the Antarctic Ocean. Conservationists hailed the ruling as a victory, but Tokyo says it will submit revised plans for a whale hunt in 2015. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video A Dinosaur Fit for Land and Water

Residents and tourists in Washington D.C. can now examine a life-size replica of an unusual dinosaur that lived almost a hundred million years ago in northern Africa. Scientists say studying the behemoth named Spinosaurus helps them better understand how some prehistoric animals adapted to life on land and in water. The Spinosaurus replica is on display at the National Geographic museum. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Iraqi Kurdistan Church Helps Christian Children Cope find shelter in churches in the Kurdish capital, Irbil

In the past six weeks, tens of thousands of Iraqi Christians have been forced to flee their homes by Islamic State militants and find shelter in churches in the Kurdish capital, Irbil. Despite U.S. airstrikes in the region, the prospect of people returning home is still very low and concerns are starting to grow over the impact this is having on the displaced youth. Sebastian Meyer reports from Irbil on how one church is coping.


Carnage and mayhem are part of daily life in northern Nigeria, the result of a terror campaign by the Islamist group Boko Haram. Fears are growing that Nigeria’s government may not know how to counter it, and may be making things worse. More

AppleAndroid