Human Rights group slams KP govt over ordinance!

On Tuesday September 17, 2019, the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP) government promulgated an ordinance extending certain powers of the armed forces, which were available in the erstwhile Fata and Pata while acting in aid of civil power, to the entire province. According to news reports “The KP Actions (in aid of civil power) Ordinance, 2019, which was issued by the provincial governor on Aug 5, is almost a reproduction of two regulations promulgated by the president in 2011 for Fata and Pata through which legal cover was given to several detention centres set up during the military operations in different regions. The ordinance assigns wide-ranging powers to the authorised officers and armed forces besides giving an interning authority to detain a suspect until the continuation of action in aid of civil power by the armed forces.”

The Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP) has just issued a statement stating that it is “appalled to learn that the Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa (KP) government has promulgated an ordinance that extends certain powers of the armed forces that were applicable to erstwhile FATA and PATA under the 2011 regulations ‘in aid of civil power’ to the entire province. HRCP is gravely concerned that serious violations of human rights may be given legal cover under this ordinance. The merger of former FATA and KP was intended to provide FATA’s residents with the basic rights and access to justice they had been denied for decades. Ironically, the ordinance may now compromise the rights of citizens across the entire province.”

A recent fact-finding report of the HRCP revealed “a strong trust deficit between the state and citizens of KP: the local communities that HRCP consulted are already wary of what shape law enforcement and access to justice will take. They have already voiced concerns to HRCP over the fairness of the recent elections amid the continued presence of the armed forces, and are unhappy with the lack of transparency surrounding the Kharqamar incident. The promulgated ordinance does nothing to allay these fears.”

As HRCP states, “Responsibility for maintaining law and order in KP lies squarely on the shoulders of the KP government, and should not be outsourced in this manner. HRCP strongly urges the KP government to heed the aspirations of KP’s people and focus instead on strengthening civilian authority and capacity in the province.”

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