Islamabad: PPP Senator Farhatullah Babar has called for a wide ranging national debate involving all strata of society including political parties, lawyers, religious scholars, intellectuals, media persons and academia on awarding death penalty in a broken justice system and the laws heavily tilted in favor of the rich and the powerful.
Addressing a seminar on ‘Trial and Terror’ organized by the Justice Project of Pakistan in a local hotel in Islamabad to launch its report he said that terrorists refused to be deterred by death penalty, the rich and powerful manipulated Qisas law to get away with murder and only the poor were hanged.
Three years since the lifting of moratorium on executions it is time to make an assessment of the net result of the application of Anti terror laws, the military courts, the Regulation in Aid of Civil Power and Guantanamo Bay type prisons for fighting terrorism, he said. Nearly five hundred have been executed during the last three years, over 80 percent of them were ordinary criminals and not jet black terrorists as promised at the time of military courts.
He said that in a security driven state welfare and rights of the people mattered little. Our rush to carry out executions is a reaffirmation of the truth that a state that does not care about peoples’ lives is least concerned about how they died.
He said that recently two brothers were acquitted of murder by the Supreme Court after nearly fifteen years on death row but only after they had already been executed and no one in the criminal justice chain knowing about it.
He asked scholars how they rationalized such gross miscarriage of justice with the insistence that moratorium on executions was against religion.
He said that according to scholars Islam called for death penalty in only two offences but today twenty seven offences in Pakistan carried death penalty. There is no reason why we should not revisit the offences that carry death penalty, he said.
He said the implementation of Action on Aid of civil Administration Regulation 2011 was another worrisome area. The Regulation was given back dated effect from 2008 to enable the security agencies to conduct open trial of those in their custody for years in PATA (provincially administered areas) of KPK.
However, today, no one knows how many internment centres have been set up for keeping them, how many inmates in these centres, what are charges, how many have died while in the centres and whether and how many are being tried for what crimes and in which courts.
These internment centres have become like little Guantamano Bay prisons, black hole for the inmates and no go areas even for the judiciary and the parliament, he said.