The government will look to plug ‘loopholes’ in the existing criminal justice system to ensure that terror suspects do not take advantage of weak prosecution – a problem that has given rise to immense concern among the security apparatus of the country.
The oft-cited matter was debated at the high-powered Defence Committee of the Cabinet (DCC) meeting, chaired by Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gilani and attended by foreign, interior and defence ministers as well as the chairman Joint Chiefs of Staff and the three services chiefs on Wednesday.
The DCC is the highest forum addressing matters relating to Pakistan’s national security.
The meeting voiced reservations over the ‘faulty prosecution system’ that allowed several terror suspects to be acquitted by courts, officials familiar with the proceedings told The Express Tribune.
The country’s security establishment has also long been suggesting a review of the existing criminal justice system in order to bring terror suspects to the book.
Though the country has special anti-terror laws, suspects caught by security agencies for their involvement in terrorist attacks are rarely convicted.
Over two dozen suspected terrorists have been acquitted of the charge in the past six months by the trial courts in Rawalpindi and Islamabad alone.
The low conviction rate is attributed to inadequate legislation coupled with weak prosecution.
An official statement issued after the DCC meeting quoted Prime Minister Gilani as saying that consultations, cooperation and coordination between all arms of the government – most notably among the intelligence agencies and law enforcing bodies – was a pre-requisite for ensuring national security.
“We need to clearly identify the threat posed by terrorism including the underlining factors such as ideological and motivational, funding, weapon supply, training, organisational support for terrorism groups and those aiding and abetting the terrorists.”
The prime minister said that the intelligence and security agencies have been tested to the limits.
The ministry of interior gave a presentation on the internal security situation to the meeting’s participants.
The committee also decided to strengthen mechanisms between the provinces and federal government on security issues.
It was also decided to establish a National Crime Database at the centre and the Ministry of Interior has been directed to make it functional on an urgent basis.
Published in The Express Tribune, August 18th, 2011.
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