ICJ urges Pakistan to halt system of ‘military justice’


The International Commission of Jurists (ICJ) has asked the Pakistani government to roll back the system of trial of civilians in military courts.

The government must “stop putting civilians charged with terrorism-related offences on trial before military tribunals,” read a statement on Friday.

In January 2015, Pakistan empowered the military courts to try civilians, followed by constitution of 11 military courts to hear terrorism-related cases.

So far, these courts have concluded trials of 105 people, finding the defendants guilty in 81 cases.

At least 77 people were sentenced to death and four given life sentences. Further, 12 people were hanged after, what the ICJ called, grossly unfair trials.

While admitting that the government faced an obligation to protect its citizens against terrorists, Sam Zarifi, ICJ Director for Asia argued at the same time that military tribunals were not the solution.

According to him, military tribunals were not the proper way of convicting the suspects.

“These tribunals are opaque and operate in violation of national and international fair trial standards, and so are not effective in providing justice, truth or even proper remedies for the victims of terrorism,” Zarifi maintained.

Families of 17 people, convicted by the courts, have filed petitions with the Supreme Court, saying that they were denied a right to fair trial.

Further, the petitioners alleged that the convicts were subjected to forced disappearances, ill-treatment and even torture.

The ICJ went on to urge the government to reinstate moratorium on death penalty.