Pakistani rights body slams new anti-terror law

Pakistan`s rights watchdog voiced alarm at promulgation of Protection of Pakistan (Amendment) Ordinance (PPO)of 2014, saying anti-terror law violates constitutionally guaranteed rights.

Lahore: Pakistan`s leading rights watchdog on Friday voiced alarm at the promulgation of the Protection of Pakistan (Amendment) Ordinance (PPO)of 2014, saying the anti-terror law violates constitutionally guaranteed rights and legitimises illegalities.
The Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP) said in a statement: "There are far too many things in the PPO that rights respecting individuals would find difficult to stomach."

Key concerns include giving authorities the power to withhold information about the location of a detainee or grounds for such detention; detention of a person in internment centre instead of ordinary jails; creating new classifications of suspects such as enemy alien or combatant enemy, and legitimising illegal detention and enforced disappearances by giving retrospective effect to the law.

"The HRCP doubts that when the apex court had declared prolonged and unannounced detention by security forces illegal and called for legislation, ordinances like these were what it had called for," the statement said.

Citing exceptional circumstances to justify derogation of rights and delegation of exceptional powers to law enforcers is "particularly worrisome in the context of enforced disappearances", it cautioned.

The PPO will only compound the saga of enforced disappearance and strengthen impunity, it said. The "glaring illegalities" the ordinance seeks to facilitate would not escape the notice of the judiciary, it added.

"We are of the opinion that while the new ordinance would certainly strip suspects of many rights, it would not contribute to making the country more secure or holding to account those responsible for widespread bloodletting in Pakistan," the NGO said.

There can be no justification for promulgating an ordinance on such an important issue in the presence of parliament, which should have been allowed to consider the controversial law, the rights body said.