Pakistan Supreme Court stayed executions by Military Courts

Apr 17, 2015 17:00 IST

The Supreme Court of Pakistan on 16 April 2015 suspended death sentences issued by the recently established Military Courts. The suspension will remain until it rules on the legality of the death sentences given to prisoners by the military courts early in April 2015.

The Court’s order came on a petition filed by the country’s Supreme Court Bar Association seeking a stay in executions ordered by military courts. The petition was filed by Asma Jahangir, a rights activist and lawyer.

The petition challenged the trials by the military courts and questioned whether prisoners were provided with a fair hearing under them. It also said that the recent trials of military courts are neither public nor transparent, and military courts do not ordinarily observe the principle of due process.

Background
Pakistan on 19 December 2014 ended a seven-year moratorium on executions, after militants killed about 150 students and staff at an Army school in Peshawar. The Parliament also passed a constitutional amendment empowering the military to try those suspected of being terrorists in a parallel system of courts, which operate swiftly compared with the slower-paced civilian judiciary. After this amendment, nine military courts were set up in January 2015.

Since the end of the moratorium on executions about 60 death-row inmates have been executed on the orders of civilian courts. Human Rights groups say more than 8000 people have been sentenced to death in Pakistan. In March 2015 the government announced that all of those who had exhausted the appeals process and pleas for clemency would be executed.

 

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