Changes to ATA may undermine human rights: HRCP -Pakistan Press Foundation (PPF)

Paksitan Press Foundtion

Changes to ATA may undermine human rights: HRCP

LAHORE: The Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP) has expressed its reservations about the proposed changes to anti-terror law fearing the amendments if approved may undermine human rights in the country.

In a statement issued on Wednesday, the commission said some of the changes proposed in the law were not only contrary to due process but also a derogation of human rights, calling upon the parliament to ensure adequate safeguards to prevent abuse by law-enforcement agencies.

“While the bill is largely a reproduction of the 2009 ordinance on the subject, it has several new provisions that will cause anxiety to defenders of rule of law.”

Saying it understood the need to strengthen the law for dealing with terrorist activities and terrorist groups, particularly those banned but operating under new names, the HRCP expressed its serious concern at the proposed powers to law enforcement agencies in view of their persistent disregard of human rights and their inability to deal with crime in a scientific, non-violent manner.

“We have serious concerns regarding the provision of detention for 90 days for inquiry and the downgrading of the investigation officers – sub-inspectors are proposed to be tasked with such inquiries now, instead of inspectors under the prevailing law.”

The HRCP had serious objections to the move to grant sweeping powers to police to tape phones and access personal information in absence of any safeguards for privacy and without adequate oversight, the release said.

It called upon all MPs to make every effort to ensure that human rights were not the first casualty in the state’s questionable efforts to curb terrorism.

“They must also make certain that adequate safeguards are provided so that inefficiency and abuse of authority by police do not lead to denial of rights to the people,” it concluded.
Source: Dawn
Date:7/29/2010