Rights group urges Pakistan to avoid reviving 'draconian' law

Act targeting terrorists has been used against marginalized communities as well, says human rights commission

July 25, 2016
Pakistan's rights body has expressed concern over moves to revive a law that further empowers the security agencies' powers of detention.

"Human Rights Commission of Pakistan notes with great alarm reports of the Ministry of the Interior sending a summary to the prime minister, seeking to revive the Protection of Pakistan Act," said Chairwoman Zohra Yusuf in a statement regarding the act, which expired July 15.

"POPA shifted the burden of proof to the accused and violated due process rights, including the right to a fair trial, which has been acknowledged by the Constitution as a fundamental right," she said, adding that the law allows Pakistan security forces to detain people in prolonged custody without adequate safeguards.

"At the time of act's approval, the government had assured parliament that it will be used only against 'jet black terrorists'," she added.

"That, however, has not proven to be the case and slum dwellers of Islamabad and protesting peasants in Okara are only some of the examples of the ordinary citizens against whom the law has been invoked."

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