ISLAMABAD: The Supreme Court Bar Association (SCBA) has said the trials of persons allegedly involved in the May 9 mayhem, under military courts may raise questions about transparency, impartiality, and the protection of civil liberties.
The SCBA president and the Executive Committee, on Thursday, in a statement condemned the criminal events of 9th May, wherein, a violent mob attacked, ransacked, and resorted to carry out vandalism on Jinnah House (Lahore) and military installations across the country. They said that such acts of violence and destruction not only undermine the rule of law but also threaten the stability and security of the country.
The SCBA conveyed its unwavering support to the armed forces of the country. They said that attacking historical and cultural landmarks like the Jinnah House is an assault on the shared heritage and identity of the people of Pakistan.
Similarly, targeting military offices/installations poses a threat to national security. It is essential to protect and preserve landmarks as they serve as reminders of our nation’s history and the principles upon which it was built. The same goes for military apparatus as the safety of such military installations/offices holds paramount importance for the nation’s security and ensuring the safety of its citizens, they viewed.
At this juncture, they underlined that, while it is important to address security concerns and maintain law and order, it is equally vital to uphold principles of justice, fairness, and due process.
As such, trials to be conducted under military courts may raise questions about transparency, impartiality, and the protection of civil liberties. It is crucial to ensure that all individuals accused of crimes are granted their fundamental rights (as enshrined in Art.4, Art.8,9,10,10-A and Art.14 of the Constitution), including the opportunity of a fair trial before the already in-placed criminal justice system.
Such courts may also lack civilian oversight and accountability as they are composed of military officers, and their procedures and standards of evidence may differ from those of civilian courts. The trial by military courts shall be unconstitutional.
The SCBA is of the opinion that it is equally important to strike a balance between security imperatives and the protection of civil liberties, including the right to a fair trial. To address these concerns, efforts should be made to strengthen the civilian judiciary, enhance its capacity to handle terrorism-related cases, and ensure that all individuals, regardless of their alleged crimes, are afforded due process and the protection of their fundamental rights and tried in accordance with the law.
The association called upon the government agencies and law enforcement agencies to thoroughly, impartially and independently investigate the criminal events of May 9, hold those actually responsible accountable, and ensure that justice is served.
They also stated that it is essential to promote a peaceful and inclusive society where the rule of law prevails and where differences can be addressed through dialogue and democratic processes. They called upon the political parties to resolve their differences for the sake of national integrity and the rule of law.
Copyright Business Recorder, 2023