Pakistan Protection Ordinance: Law repugnant to fundamental rights, civil liberties, say experts

Published: February 4, 2014
Columnist Ejaz Haider. PHOTO: INP

Columnist Ejaz Haider. PHOTO: INP


Though the country needs legislation to cope with the current security situation, laws should not be in contravention of fundamental rights, said speakers at a discussion held on Monday.

The discussion, “PPO its Legal Implications and its Effect on Human Rights,” was organised by Insaf Network Pakistan (INP).

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Speakers urged the lawmakers to review the ordinance as it violates the fundamental rights of the citizens protected by the constitution.

In October last year President Mamnoon Hussain had approved the Protection of Pakistan (Amendment) Ordinance 2014 which is currently pending in the National Assembly.

INP legal counsel Yasser Latif Hamdani highlighting the controversial clauses, said they should be reviewed.

There is a clause in the ordinance which allows an officer to enter and search any premises, make any arrest, take possession of any property, weapon or article used, or likely to be used, in the commission of any scheduled offence, without a warrant.

The law also permits law enforcement agencies to lock up any person if they fail to prove their identity and a court cannot question their detention.

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The ordinance was challenged in the Islamabad High Court (IHC) and the court has sought a reply from the government. Besides, a petition was also filed in the Supreme Court (SC) against the PPO but the court has yet to take up the matter.

Columnist Ejaz Haider said there were flaws in the ordinance and society needed to address the paradox of how intrusive laws could be, and where they drew the line between civil liberties. Haider also talked about the effect of modern technology on the privacy of citizens and how it had become more and more intrusive.

The ordinance was flawed and called it a draconian bill. He said that it violated Article 10-A of the Constitution, said Advocate Athar Minallah. “The larger issue is that government lacks the will to take the necessary steps thus all laws, good or bad are essentially useless.

Former ambassador Ashraf Qazi said PPO was a law created in bad faith and it should be opposed by civil society. He also suggested that it was designed for dissidents in general such as political protesters rather than violent groups.

The panellists and participants hoped that Parliament would amend the ordinance before enacting it.

Published in The Express Tribune, February 4th, 2014.

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