Constitutional guarantees: ‘Drone strikes violate fundamental rights’

LHC directs government to submit reply in drone strikes case.

Our Correspondent February 22, 2013
The court directed the government to submit an agreement, if any, with the US regarding the drone strikes. PHOTO:


Chief Justice (CJ) Umar Ata Bandial of the Lahore High Court on Friday said the killing of innocent people in drone attacks violated fundamental rights of people as enshrined in the Constitution.

The court had resumed proceedings on a petition moved by Jamaatud Dawa (JuD) chief Hafiz Muhammad Saeed against US drone strikes in the country.

The CJ said the federal government had failed to protect the lives and properties of people. He asked the government to submit a reply by the next hearing on March 7.

He asked the deputy attorney general whether these drone strikes were being carried out with the government’s permission and what steps had been taken to stop the killing of innocent people in these strikes.

The court directed the government to submit an agreement, if any, with the US regarding the drone strikes.

JuD’s counsel AK Dogar said it was the judiciary’s responsibility to check why the government was not performing its foremost duty of protecting its people.

Saeed’s petition had sought directions to the government to make public information regarding matters of public importance, especially ‘secret deals’ brokered with the US. He asked the court to outlaw pre-emptive strikes by foreign countries on Pakistani territory.

Bagram jail petition

The Lahore High Court (LHC) on Friday ordered the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to file a detailed report on the repatriation of six Pakistanis detained at Bagram jail.

Justice Muhammad Khalid Mahmood Khan resumed hearing the petition moved by Sultana Noon, a representative of the non-profit law firm Justice Project Pakistan (JPP). The deputy attorney general (DAG) submitted a reply on behalf of the federal government.

The DAG said that detention of six Pakistanis had been verified. He said negotiations with the United Stated of America for their repatriation and verification of other Pakistani prisoners was underway.

Expressing dissatisfaction, the judge described the MFA’s update as ‘maintaining the status quo’ with no real progress since it had reported five months ago that the detained men were due for release.

Barrister Sarah Belal argued that the ongoing detention and delays in the repatriation were a clear violation of the Geneva Convention as ruled by the United Kingdom Supreme Court in the case of Pakistani national Yunis Rahmatullah.

She said the judgment stated that the government of Pakistan was obliged to take action in order to fix breaches of the Geneva Convention.

Lauding the UK Supreme Court, Justice Khan said that the court would pass a detailed order asking the government to demonstrate whether it was taking effective measures for the repatriation of Pakistani citizens.

The hearing was then adjourned.

The next date of hearing would be set by the registrar’s office.

After the hearing, Sarah Belal said it had been over five months since the government committed itself to repatriating six of its citizens from Bagram.

The 10 detainees mentioned in the petition are: Awal Noor, Hamidullah Khan, Abdul Haleem Saifullah, Fazal Karim, Amal Khan, Yunus Rahmatullah, Iftikhaar Ahmed, Amanatullah Ali, Shoaib Ahmed and Imran Khan.

She said all 10 were Pakistani citizens being held indefinitely at Bagram. The prisoners lacked access to lawyers and were not told about the evidence against them.

She said one of the prisoner’s was merely 16 years of age when detained initially. Another was not permitted to speak to his family for six years but was now believed to be in poor physical and psychological state, she added.

She said the prisoners’ families have asked the Lahore High Court to secure the immediate release of their loved ones and bring charges against the government for violating Pakistani as well as international law.

Published in The Express Tribune, February 23rd, 2013.


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