News / Asia

Pakistan Holds Hundreds Without Charge Under Controversial Law

A blindfolded man sits in a Pakistani rangers' vehicle after being arrested for inciting unrest in a residential area in Karachi, December 26, 2012.
A blindfolded man sits in a Pakistani rangers' vehicle after being arrested for inciting unrest in a residential area in Karachi, December 26, 2012.
Sharon Behn
Pakistan's Attorney General said Thursday that the country's security forces are holding as many as 700 people without charge as part of the fight against terrorism. Human rights advocates claim the controversial law is unjustified and open to abuse.

Attorney General Irfan Qadir told the Supreme Court that some 700 people have been taken into custody during security operations. The detainees are being held without charge in special internment centers.
 
Qadir told VOA that, in accordance with a law passed in 2011, the internees would only be handed over for formal prosecution once such operations are no longer being conducted.
 
"These laws are made for [a] war-like situation, and therefore the law provides -- the relevant section of the law provides when they are to be handed over for prosecution for the offenses they have committed, that will be the time when the operations come to an end, when the actions in aid of civil power have been concluded."

Qadir could not say how long the internees have already been held, or why they continued to be held.

The problem with the new law

Human rights activist and Pakistani Supreme Court advocate Asma Jahangir is challenging the law, which covers the northwestern Federally Administered Tribal Area -- the Taliban stronghold known as FATA.
 
"Well, there is no war condition in FATA, and if it is, then the government must declare it, that there is a warlike situation or an emergency there," she said.

"Secondly, there is no law that is retrospective [retroactive], and no law that will keep people under detention for [an] unknown period. And thirdly, the evidentiary value, the clauses of this law, are very defective because what it says is that the evidence of the security official shall be conclusive against the accused - so it’s a kangaroo trial," she added.

Jahangir said some people arrested without charge before the law came into effect are now being detained under the 2011 regulation.
 
Pakistan's Supreme Court is currently hearing a case of seven suspected militants who have been held without charge since May 2010. The seven are the survivors of a group of 11 who were detained in connection with a terrorist attack in 2007.
 
Pakistan's powerful intelligence agency, the ISI, produced the seven in court last February. Several were in poor physical condition. Jahangir said one family member has alleged that their relative has been tortured and that no human rights representative has been allowed to visit those being held.
 
Amnesty International has criticized the law, which it said provides a framework for "widespread human rights violations to occur with impunity."

In a report released in December 2012, Amnesty said many of those held in Pakistan are tortured. It said that those released alive are threatened if they speak out about their treatment in detention.
 
For nearly a decade, Pakistan's security agencies have been conducting operations in the country's northwest areas, where militant groups such as the Taliban and al-Qaida operate.

You May Like

Could Nemtsov Threaten Putin in Death as in Life?

Dynamic and debonair opposition leader had supported liberal economic reforms, criticized Russian president's aggression in Ukraine More

Oil Smuggling Highlights Challenges in Shutting Down IS Finances

Pentagon spokesman says Islamic State 'certainly continues to get revenue from the oil industry black market' but that airstrikes have made a dent More

India Focuses on Infrastructure, Investment to Propel Economy

Government expects economy to grow at 8 to 8.5 percent in next fiscal year More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
US Supreme Court Hears Hijab Discrimination Casei
X
Katherine Gypson
February 25, 2015 11:30 PM
The U.S. Supreme Court has heard opening arguments in a workplace religious discrimination case that examines whether a clothing store can refuse to hire a young woman for wearing the headscarf she says is a symbol of her Muslim faith. Katherine Gypson reports from the Supreme Court.
Video

Video US Supreme Court Hears Hijab Discrimination Case

The U.S. Supreme Court has heard opening arguments in a workplace religious discrimination case that examines whether a clothing store can refuse to hire a young woman for wearing the headscarf she says is a symbol of her Muslim faith. Katherine Gypson reports from the Supreme Court.
Video

Video Falling Gas Prices Hurt Nascent Illinois Hydraulic Fracturing Industry

Falling oil prices are helping consumers purchase cheaper petroleum at the pump. But that’s made hydraulic fracturing or “fracking” less economically viable for the companies in the United States invested in the process. VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports on one Midwestern town that was hoping to change its fortunes by cashing in on the next big U.S. oil boom.
Video

Video Fighting in Sudan's South Kordofan Fuels Mass Displacement

Heavy fighting in Sudan's South Kordofan state is causing hundreds of thousands to flee into uncertain conditions. Local aid organizations estimate as many as 400,000 civilians have been internally displaced since the conflict began more than three years ago, while another 250,000 have fled across the border to refugee camps in South Sudan. VOA's Adam Bailes reports.
Video

Video Lao Dam Project Runs Into Opposition

A Lao dam project on a section of the Mekong River is drawing opposition from local fishermen, international environmental groups and neighboring countries. VOA's Say Mony visited the region to investigate the concerns. Colin Lovett narrates.
Video

Video A Filmmaker Discovers Her Biracial Identity in "Little White Lie

Lacey Schwartz grew up in an upper middle-class Jewish family, in a town in upstate New York where almost everyone she knew was white. She assumed that she was, as well. Her recent documentary, Little White Lie, tells the story of how she uncovered the secret of her true racial background. VOA’s Carolyn Weaver has more on the film.
Video

Video Deep Under Antarctic Ice Sheet, Life!

With the end of summer in the Southern hemisphere, the Antarctic research season is over. Scientists from Northern Illinois University are back in their laboratory after a 3-month expedition on the Ross Ice Shelf, the world’s largest floating ice sheet. As VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports, they hope to find clues to explain the dynamics of the rapidly melting ice and its impact on sea level rise.
Video

Video US-Cuba Normalization Talks Resume Friday

Negotiations aimed at normalizing diplomatic relations between the U.S. and Cuba resume Friday. On the table: lifting a half-century trade embargo and easing banking and travel restrictions. There's opposition in Congress, but some analysts say there may be sufficient political and economic incentives in both nations for a potential breakthrough this year. VOA's Mil Arcega reports.
Video

Video Pakistan's Deadline For SIM Registration Has Cellphone Users Scrambling

Pakistani cell phone users have until midnight Thursday to register their SIM cards, or their service will be cut off. While some privacy experts worry about government intrusion, many Pakistanis are just worried about keeping their phone lines open. VOA Deewa reporter Arshad Muhmand has more from Peshawar.
Video

Video Myanmar Warns Factory Workers to End Strikes

Outside Myanmar's main city Yangon, thousands of workers walked off their jobs earlier this month demanding a doubling of their wages, pay raises after a year and input from labor unions on industrial regulations. Since Friday, the standoff has grown more tense as police moved in to disrupt the sit-ins, resulting in clashes that injured people from both sides. VOA correspondent Steve Herman visited industrial zones which have become a focus of Myanmar's fledgling workers rights movement.
Video

Video Oscar Winners Do More Than Thank the Academy

The Academy Awards presentation is Hollywood’s night to reward the best movies from the previous year. It’s typically a lot of glitter, a lot of thank you’s, a lot of speeches. But many of this year’s speeches carried messages beyond the thank you's. VOA’s Carolyn Presutti takes a look.

All About America

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More