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Pak human rights commission demands repeal of `draconian` law

Last Updated: Friday, July 4, 2014 - 18:27

Lahore: Terming Pakistan`s new anti-terror law as a "blatant attack on the fundamental rights of the people," a human rights group today demanded the repeal of the `draconian` legislation.

"The Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP) is appalled at the failure of parliament to block the passage of the `Protection of Pakistan Bill 2014,` a `draconian` legislation to the core," a statement issued by the Commission said.

On Wednesday, the National Assembly or lower house of Pakistan parliament approved the bill.

It seems the period of eight months since the first version of this pernicious law was promulgated as an ordinance was spent on a fruitless exercise to turn an innately black measure white, the statement said.

While the Senate did increase a few safeguards against the capricious use of the powers granted to law enforcing agencies, the Commission alleged, it achieved little more than giving the bitter pill a thicker coating of sugar.

"It says the law enforcing personnel still have the power to open fire on anyone they declare to be a suspect and they still have unbridled authority to detain people, not only for 60 days but for longer periods.

"The addition of broadly defined `militants` and insurgents to the list of the security agencies` targets makes the measure more sinister than before," the statement added.

The "Protection of Pakistan Bill 2014" empowers an official of grade 15 (Non Gazetted Officers/Junior Officers/ JCOs) and above to issue such orders.

It also allows a suspect to be kept under detention for a period of 60 days after getting judicial remand.

The loose language of the bill and the power allowed to the government to add new offences to the schedule heighten fears of the enactment`s abuse, especially in areas such as Balochistan where political dissent has long been construed as sedition, the statement said.

It accused the Nawaz Sharif led PML-N government of doing a disservice to justice and democracy both and said the decision will cause a lot more misery to innocent people than "enemy aliens."

While introducing the bill, Minister of Science and Technology Zahid Hamid had said the bill was of "utmost importance" due to the military operation in North Waziristan, to enable security forces to take prompt action against the rebels.

The decade-long insurgency that has claimed over 40,000 lives.

The government on June 15 launched an all-out offensive against foreign and local militants.

So far a total of 386 militants and 19 soldiers have been killed in the offensive.

First Published: Friday, July 4, 2014 - 18:27
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