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.
    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.

    Sharon Behn

    Sharon Behn is a foreign correspondent working out of Voice of America’s headquarters in Washington D.C  Her current beat focuses on political, security and humanitarian developments in Iraq, Syria and Turkey. Follow Sharon on Twitter and on Facebook.

    You May Like

    Multimedia Obama Calls on Americans to Help the Families of Its War Dead

    In last Memorial Day of his presidency, Obama lays wreath at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier at Arlington National Cemetery

    The Strife of the Party: Will Trump Permanently Alter Republicans?

    While billionaire mogul's no-holds-barred style, high-energy delivery are what rocketed him to nomination, they also have created rift between party elites and his supporters

    China's Education Reforms Spark Protest

    Beijing is putting a quota system in place to increase the number of students from poor regions attending universities

    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.
    Chinese-Americans Heart Trump, Bucking National Trendi
    X
    May 27, 2016 5:57 AM
    A new study conducted by three Asian-American organizations shows there are three times as many Democrats as there are Republicans among Asian-American voters, and they favor Hillary Clinton over Donald Trump. But one group, called Chinese-Americans For Trump, is going against the tide and strongly supports the business tycoon. VOA’s Elizabeth Lee caught up with them at a Trump rally and reports from Anaheim, California.
    Video

    Video Chinese-Americans Heart Trump, Bucking National Trend

    A new study conducted by three Asian-American organizations shows there are three times as many Democrats as there are Republicans among Asian-American voters, and they favor Hillary Clinton over Donald Trump. But one group, called Chinese-Americans For Trump, is going against the tide and strongly supports the business tycoon. VOA’s Elizabeth Lee caught up with them at a Trump rally and reports from Anaheim, California.
    Video

    Video Reactions to Trump's Success Polarized Abroad

    What seemed impossible less than a year ago is now almost a certainty. New York real estate mogul Donald Trump has won the number of delegates needed to secure the Republican presidential nomination. The prospect has sparked as much controversy abroad as it has in the United States. Zlatica Hoke has more.
    Video

    Video Drawings by Children in Hiroshima Show Hope and Peace

    On Friday, President Barack Obama will visit Hiroshima, Japan, the first American president to do so while in office. In August 1945, the United States dropped an atomic bomb on the city to force Japan's surrender in World War II. Although their city lay in ruins, some Hiroshima schoolchildren drew pictures of hope and peace. The former students and their drawings are now part of a documentary called “Pictures from a Hiroshima Schoolyard.” VOA's Deborah Block has the story.
    Video

    Video Vietnamese Rapper Performs for Obama

    A prominent young Vietnamese artist told President Obama said she faced roadblocks as a woman rapper, and asked the president about government support for the arts. He asked her to rap, and he even offered to provide a base beat for her. Watch what happened.
    Video

    Video Roots Run Deep for Tunisia's Dwindling Jewish Community

    This week, hundreds of Jewish pilgrims are defying terrorist threats to celebrate an ancient religious festival on the Tunisian island of Djerba. The festivities cast a spotlight on North Africa's once-vibrant Jewish population that has all but died out in recent decades. Despite rising threats of militant Islam and the country's battered economy, one of the Arab world's last Jewish communities is staying put and nurturing a new generation. VOA’s Lisa Bryant reports.
    Video

    Video Meet Your New Co-Worker: The Robot

    Increasing numbers of robots are joining the workforce, as companies scale back and more processes become automated. The latest robots are flexible and collaborative, built to work alongside humans as opposed to replacing them. VOA’s Tina Trinh looks at the next generation of automated employees helping out their human colleagues.
    Video

    Video Wheelchair Technology in Tune With Times

    Technologies for the disabled, including wheelchair technology, are advancing just as quickly as everything else in the digital age. Two new advances in wheelchairs offer improved control and a more comfortable fit. VOA's George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Baby Boxes Offer Safe Haven for Unwanted Children

    No one knows exactly how many babies are abandoned worldwide each year. The statistic is a difficult one to determine because it is illegal in most places. Therefore unwanted babies are often hidden and left to die. But as Erika Celeste reports from Woodburn, Indiana, a new program hopes to make surrendering infants safer for everyone.
    Video

    Video California Celebration Showcases Local Wines, Balloons

    Communities in the U.S. often hold festivals to show what makes them special. In California, for example, farmers near Fresno celebrate their figs and those around Gilmore showcase their garlic. Mike O'Sullivan reports that the wine-producing region of Temecula offers local vintages in an annual festival where rides on hot-air balloons add to the excitement.
    Video

    Video US Elementary School Offers Living Science Lessons

    Zero is not a good score on a test at school. But Discovery Elementary is proud of its “net zero” rating. Net zero describes a building in which the amount of energy provided by on-site renewable sources equals the amount of energy the building uses. As Faiza Elmasry tells us, the innovative features in the building turn the school into a teaching tool, where kids can't help but learn about science and sustainability. Faith Lapidus narrates.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora