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

Asian Stocks Plunge on Weak Factory Activity

Official survey finds China’s manufacturing sector contracted at its fastest pace in three years More

DRC Tries Mega-Farms to Feed Population

Park at Boukanga Lonzo currently has 5,000 hectares under cultivation, crops stretching as far as eye can see, and is start of ambitious large-scale agriculture plan More

Video War, Drought Threaten Iraq's Marshlands

Areas are spawning ground for Gulf fisheries, a resting place for migrating wildfowl, source of livelihood for fishermen and herders who have called the marshes home for generations 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.
Nobel Prize Winner Malala Talks to VOAi
X
August 31, 2015 2:17 AM
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 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.
Video

Video Next to Iran, Climate at Forefront of Obama Agenda

President Barack Obama this week announced new initiatives aimed at making it easier for Americans to access renewable energy sources such as solar and wind. Obama is not slowing down when it comes to pushing through climate change measures, an issue he says is the greatest threat to the country’s national security. VOA correspondent Aru Pande has more from the White House.
Video

Video Arctic Draws International Competition for Oil

A new geopolitical “Great Game” is underway in earth’s northernmost region, the Arctic, where Russia has claimed a large area for resource development and President Barack Obama recently approved Shell Oil Company’s test-drilling project in an area under U.S. control. Greg Flakus reports.
Video

Video Philippine Maritime Police: Chinese Fishermen a Threat to Country’s Security

China and the Philippines both claim maritime rights in the South China Sea.  That includes the right to fish in those waters. Jason Strother reports on how the Philippines is catching Chinese nationals it says are illegal poachers. He has the story from Palawan province.
Video

Video China's Spratly Island Building Said to Light Up the Night 'Like A City'

Southeast Asian countries claim China has illegally seized territory in the Spratly islands. It is especially a concern for a Philippine mayor who says Beijing is occupying parts of his municipality. Jason Strother reports from the capital of Palawan province, Puerto Princesa.
Video

Video Ages-old Ice Reveals Secrets of Climate Change

Ice caps don't just exist at the world's poles. There are also tropical ice caps, and the largest sits atop the Peruvian Andes - but it is melting, quickly, and may be gone within the next 20 years. George Putic reports scientists are now rushing to take samples to get at the valuable information about climate change locked in the ice.

VOA Blogs