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

Turbulent Transition Imperils Tunisia’s Arab Spring Gains

Critics say new anti-terrorism laws worsen Tunisia's situation while others put faith in country’s vibrant civil organizations, women’s movement More

Burundi’s Political Crisis May Become Humanitarian One

United Nations aid agencies issue warning as deadly violence sends tens of thousands fleeing More

Yemenis Adjust to Life Under Houthi Rule

Locals want warring parties to strike deal to stop bloodletting before deciding how country is governed 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.
Texas Town Residents Told to 'Just Leave' Ahead of Flood Threati
X
Greg Flakus
May 29, 2015 11:24 PM
Water from heavy rain in eastern and central Texas is now swelling rivers that flow into the Gulf of Mexico, threatening towns along their banks. VOA’s Greg Flakus visited the town of Wharton, southwest of Houston, where the Colorado River is close to cresting.
Video

Video Texas Town Residents Told to 'Just Leave' Ahead of Flood Threat

Water from heavy rain in eastern and central Texas is now swelling rivers that flow into the Gulf of Mexico, threatening towns along their banks. VOA’s Greg Flakus visited the town of Wharton, southwest of Houston, where the Colorado River is close to cresting.
Video

Video New York's One World Trade Center Observatory Opens to Public

From New Jersey to Long Island, from Northern suburbs to the Atlantic Ocean, with all of New York City in-between.  That view became available to the public Friday as the One World Trade Center Observatory opened in New York -- atop the replacement for the buildings destroyed in the September 11, 2001, attacks.  VOA’s Bernard Shusman reports.
Video

Video Seoul Sponsors Korean Unification Fair

With inter-Korean relations deteriorating over the North’s nuclear program, past military provocations and human rights abuses, many Koreans still hold out hope for eventual peaceful re-unification. VOA’s Brian Padden visited a “unification fair” held this week in Seoul, where border communities promoted the benefits of increased cooperation.
Video

Video Purple Door Coffeeshop: Changing Lives One Cup at a Time

For a quarter of his life, Kevin Persons lived on the street. Today, he is working behind the counter of an espresso bar, serving coffee and working to transition off the streets and into a home. Paul Vargas reports for VOA.
Video

Video Modular Robot Getting Closer to Reality

A robot being developed at Carnegie Mellon University has evolved into a multi-legged modular mechanical snake, able to move over rugged surfaces and explore the surroundings. Scientists say such machines could someday help in search and rescue operations. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Shanghai Hosts Big Consumer Electronics Show

Electronic gadgets are a huge success in China, judging by the first Asian Consumer Electronics Show, held this week in Shanghai. Over the course of two days, more than 20,000 visitors watched, tested and played with useful and some less-useful electronic devices exhibited by about 200 manufacturers. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Forced to Return Home, Afghan Refugees Face Increased Hardship

Undocumented refugees returning to Afghanistan from Pakistan have no jobs, no support system, and no home return to, and international aid agencies say they and the government are overwhelmed and under-resourced. Ayesha Tanzeem has more from Kabul.
Video

Video Britain Makes Controversial Move to Crack Down on Extremism

Britain is moving to tighten controls on extremist rhetoric, even when it does not incite violence or hatred -- a move that some are concerned might unduly restrict basic freedoms. It is an issue many countries are grappling with as extremist groups gain power in the Middle East, fueled in part by donations and fighters from the West. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London.
Video

Video 3D Printer Makes Replica of Iconic Sports Car

Cars with parts made by 3D printers are already on the road, but engineers are still learning about this new technology. While testing the possibility of printing an entire car, researchers at the U.S. Department of Energy recently created an electric-powered replica of an iconic sports roadster. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Al-Shabab Recruitment Drive Still on In Kenya

The al-Shabab militants that have long battled for control of Somalia also have recruited thousands of young people in Kenya, leaving many families disconsolate. Mohammed Yusuf recently visited the Kenyan town of Isiolo, and met with relatives of those recruited, as well as a many who have helped with the recruiting.
Video

Video A Small Oasis on Kabul's Outskirts Provides Relief From Security Tensions

When people in Kabul want to get away from the city and relax, many choose Qargha Lake, a small resort on the outskirts of Kabul. Ayesha Tanzeem visited and talked with people about the precious oasis.
Video

Video Kenyans Lament Losing Sons to al-Shabab

There is agony, fear and lost hope in the Kenyan town of Isiolo, a key target of a new al-Shabab recruitment drive. VOA's Mohammed Yusuf visits Isiolo to speak with families and at least one man who says he was a recruiter.
Video

Video Scientists Say Plankton More Important Than Previously Thought

Tiny ocean creatures called plankton are mostly thought of as food for whales and other large marine animals, but a four-year global study discovered, among other things, that plankton are a major source of oxygen on our planet. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Kenya’s Capital Sees Rise in Shisha Parlors

In Kenya, the smoking of shisha, a type of flavored tobacco, is the latest craze. Patrons are flocking to shisha parlors to smoke and socialize. But the practice can be addictive and harmful, though many dabblers may not realize the dangers, according to a new review. Lenny Ruvaga has more on the story for VOA from Nairobi, Kenya.

VOA Blogs