Protection of Pakistan Ordinance and Protection of Human Rights of children and women

The Institute for Social Justice (ISJ) has expressed serious concerns about a new anti-human rights law in the name of security of the state.

In October 2013, the president of Pakistan on the advice of the Prime Minister of Pakistan promulgated the Pakistan Protection Ordinance (PPO) which is basically amendment in the Anti-Terrorism Act (ATA) of 1997, which was introduced by the current government’s second tenure. In 2014, the Ordinance 2013 was further amended to include more stringent provisions to deal with acts of terrorism but many of its provisions are against  fundamental rights of innocent women, children and foreigners in Pakistan. Recently the Interior Ministry of Pakistan through a Statutory Regulatory Order (SRO) has enforced the Pakistan Ordinance (PPO), 2013, which will be effective from December 5, 2013 .

In the amended ATA (the PPO), all peace disrupting elements are declared enemies of Pakistan and it further says that security of life, property and dignified living of Pakistani citizens in Pakistan shall be the prime goal for all functionaries of the state.

Section 3 of the PPO gives complete powers to armed and civil forces to use necessary force to prevent the occurrence of offences which includes destruction of or attack on communication and interaction lines, gird stations, power generating and distributing systems, lines and poles; attacks on flight crew members; destruction of or attack on gas or oil pipelines and liquid or natural gas facilities and other means of their transport including tankers; destruction of or attack on of national defense materials, premises, utilities, and installations including check posts, prisons and other fixtures;  crimes against computers including cybercrimes, internet offenses and other offences related to information technology etc; wrecking, disrupting or attacking mass transport systems including trains, buses, cars and their stations and ports, etc.

The PPO says that the civil and armed forces on reasonable apprehension can use force (including shot on sight) on people including women and children to prevent them from the commission of offence given in the schedule of the Ordinance.

In Section 3 (2) of the Ordinance, the police officer, a member of the armed forces or civil armed forces acting in aid of civil authority may arrest, without warrant, any person who has committed a scheduled offence or against whom a reasonable suspicion or credible information exists that he has committed, or is about to commit any such act or offence.

Under the PPO, any person including children can be arrested under the preventive detention and can be kept in detention up to ninety days, though the prevention detention of children under 15 years old is prohibited in the JJSO (Section 10 (6)), but ATA has been given overriding effect on all other laws, therefore, no protection measures for children in light of preventive detention are applicable.

The arrest of a person without warrant or information and then detention for ninety days without trial are against the Constitution of Pakistan. Article 10 (1) says that “no person who is arrested shall be detained in custody without being informed, as soon as may be, of the grounds for such arrest, nor shall he be denied the right to consult and be defended by a legal practitioner of his choice.”

Under the PPO, border crossing is an act of terrorism which is common on Pakistan’s borders. This and many of these types of acts were treated under the common law, will be treated under the PPO.

All Afghani people including women and children will be considered ‘aliens’ means enemies if they did not provide identity documents. Each year, thousands of Afghani people including women and children are arrested by the forces in Pakistan for not providing identity or travelling documents. This will bring more miseries for people from Afghanistan in Pakistan.

It has to be noted that the ex-president of Pakistan had also amended the Juvenile Justice System Ordinance to provide powers to Anti-Terrorism Courts to try cases of juveniles, which is against the child rights standards. These judicial set ups drag children through inhuman and degrading treatment. They are deprived of protection measures provided in the Juvenile Justice System Ordinance 2000. The law in no way mentions and excludes children from its effect. [More details at anti terrorism act is against human rights]

The ISJ urges the government to revisit the law and exclude all the anti-human rights provision, and protect interests of innocent citizens mainly women and children.