Anti Terrorism Courts (ATC) in Punjab acquitted persons accused in 21 cases out of 29, including those booked for money laundering, terrorist financing and fund raising for terrorist activities under sections of the Anti Terrorism Act (ATA) 1997, official documents obtained by The Express Tribune revealed.
The interior ministry through its National Crisis Management Cell (NCMC) sought details of the cases registered under the ATA from all the provincial home departments, provincial police officers and director general of the Federal Investigation Agency. It demanded to be provided with the number of cases in which challans (charge sheet) had been submitted to the ATCs under various provisions of the ATA, the cases in which the relevant clauses of the ATA regarding terrorist financing were applied, how many of the accused were prosecuted and what punishments were awarded to them.
The documents stated that the relevant clauses under sections 11-H (fund raising), 11-I (use and possession), 11-J (funding arrangements), 11-K (money laundering for terrorist acts) and 11-N (punishment under the mentioned sections) of ATA 1997 were pursued in letter and spirit.
These clauses were added to the ATA in 2008 through an ordinance to involve the persons who supported and financed terrorists to commit terrorist activities. However, the ordinance had expired and presently a bill for amending the act is pending with the parliament.
The report showed that out of the 29 cases, only 8 of the accused were handed down sentences, whereas the remaining were acquitted due to witnesses retracting their statements. Sources familiar with the matter said that due to these circumstances, on February 16, 2012 the international money-laundering watchdog Financial Action Task Force (FATF) blacklisted Pakistan for failing to meet international standards.
Before being included in the black list, the FATF’s Regional Review Group had sought the statistics of cases of all member countries including Pakistan, in which the offences of financing of terrorism were investigated, charged and prosecuted since the enactment of the act in 1997.
The FATF identified eight countries that had chronic deficiencies in prosecuting such cases. It found that Pakistan failed to upgrade and get formal parliamentary approval of their anti-money laundering legislation, under the United Nations’ (UN) guidelines.
Pakistan was a signatory to various UN conventions that required laws in line with international standards to combat money-laundering and terrorism financing.
Published in The Express Tribune, April 3rd, 2012.
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