PPP proposes 13 amendments in PPO

* Amendments reduce PPO’s validity period to two years; want it enforced across country; categorise combatants into three types

KARACHI: PPP senior leader Raza Rabbani has said that his party has proposed 13 amendments in the much-criticised Pakistan Protection Ordinance (PPO).
Addressing a press conference along with Senator Saeed Ghani and other PPP leaders here on Sunday, Senator Rabbani said they were not against this law, instead they wanted to safeguard the fundamental rights of the people of Pakistan.
He said that senators from Pakistan Muslim League-Quaid (PML-Q), Awami National Party (ANP), Baloch National Party-Awami (BNP-A) and PPP have proposed these amendments in the PPO.
“We also contacted the MQM about amendments in the ordinance but they have separately presented their suggestions to the government,” he said.
Giving details of the proposed amendments, Rabbani said that they had changed the name of the law to ‘Protection of Pakistani Citizens, 2014’. The validity period for the bill has been proposed two years, against the previous three years limit. On expiry of the two-year period, the government should present a new bill, he said.
Rabbani said that the bill should not be implemented in specific parts of the country but it should be enforced across the country without any discrimination.
He categorised combatants into: foreign combatants: foreigners involved in taking up arms against Pakistani citizens and institutions; militants: Pakistani citizens who commit violence against the country, foreign states or any community, and ordinary citizens: who are suspected of being involved in a terror activity.
Foreign combatants can be detained under Article 10 while the other militants or suspicious persons should be presented before court within 24 hours, he said.
He said that judicial oversight was proposed in the amendments to avoid violation of fundamental rights of people. Right of the security forces to open indiscriminate fire on any suspicious person has been restricted and it is proposed that judicial inquiry should be initiated against any such incident with at least a sessions judge heading it.
The PPP senator said that they have allowed blanket provision to raid any suspicious activity but it is proposed that the circumstances and material recovered during the raid should be presented before the special magistrate within 24 hours.
Consultation of the chief justice of Pakistan with high court chief justices concerned over formation of special courts is proposed, he said, adding that appeal could also be made with high court along with the Supreme Court and the special courts.
He said that detention period of the accused has been lowered to 45 days, with mandatory appearance of accused before the court after every 15 days.
It is also proposed that high court and Supreme Court judges should be made aware of the reasons of arrest and the detention place of the accused and if deemed fit they could also publicize it.
In case of new rules and amendments from government in the law, it should be presented before the joint sitting of the parliament within 10 days for review, he proposed.
Provision of safe houses should be deleted, he said, adding that they have proposed to shift burden of proof on prosecution unless the accused is caught red-handed preparing suicide jackets or carrying out a terror activity.

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