ISLAMABAD: Pakistan’s tough new anti-terror law gives a “green light for abusing suspects” and should be withdrawn, a rights group said on Friday.
The Human Rights Watch (HRW) said the Protection of Pakistan Bill, passed by parliament on Wednesday, violated the country’s international legal obligations. The new law doubles the maximum sentence for terror offences to 20 years and allows security forces to hold suspects for up to 60 days without disclosing their whereabouts or allegations against them. HRW said the new law could be used to suppress peaceful political opposition and criticism of government policy.
“This vague and overbroad counterterrorism law gives a green light for abusing suspects in detention, which is already far too common in Pakistan,” said Phelim Kine, deputy Asia director at Human Rights Watch, in a statement. “Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif... should ensure that this law is replaced by one that ensures the protection of basic rights in the fight against terrorism.” The legislation was watered down from its initial form. Originally the law would have allowed detention for 90 days and permitted security forces to open fire on anyone they see committing or “likely to commit” terror offences. Now officers can only shoot suspects as a “last resort”.
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