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Human Rights and Pakistan’s Counter-Terrorism Legislative Landscape

This report has been prepared to serve as a tool for the capacity building of the legal community and civil society in the area of counter-terrorism law in Pakistan and its impact on human rights. The report will introduce readers to the patchwork of laws which make up the State’s legal response to terrorism. In this regard, it looks at how these laws encroach upon human rights and provides workable recommendations to remedy the situation. Ultimately, the report is aimed at fostering discourse on these issues and helping develop constructive debate on the improvement of counter-terrorism law in Pakistan.

Due to limitations of space, this report focuses on a select number of human rights provisions recognized internationally as well as within Pakistan’s Constitution. These include the right to life, liberty, and fair trial and due process. These rights are assessed against a number of counter-terrorism laws in Pakistan. The report is structured upon seven chapters.

The first chapter discusses International Human Rights Standards and relates them to the global fight against terrorism. The second chapter looks at Pakistan’s Constitutional protection of the aforementioned rights in relation to the States response to terrorism. The third chapter looks at provisions of Pakistan’s ordinary law – the Pakistan Penal Code and the Code of Criminal Procedure – that can be used to try individuals suspected of terrorism or militancy. The fourth chapter focuses on the Anti-Terrorism Act, 1997 and how Pakistan’s primary counter-terrorism tool leaves much to be desired when it comes to both prosecutions and the protection of fundamental human rights.

The fifth chapter focuses on the Protection of Pakistan Act 2014, now defunct, but nonetheless a dangerous precedent setting law which has not received adequate analysis. The sixth chapter looks at the Military Courts established under the Pakistan Army Act 1952, to try civilian terrorism suspects, which have now ceased to function. This has been an issue of particular concern in recent years and the chapter helps to provide important analysis of an otherwise opaque system of military justice. The seventh and final chapter looks at the Actions (In Aid of Civil Power) Regulations of 2011, which apply to military operations in the Federally and Provincially Administered Tribal Areas (FATA/PATA) of Pakistan. This is a unique piece of legislation incorporating elements of international humanitarian law into Pakistan’s domestic legal system. Each chapter provides recommendations to mitigate the potential for abuse of human rights through these various laws.

“Human Rights and Pakistan’s counter-terrorism legislative landscape” is a report published by the Research Society of International Law with support from American Bar Association Rule of Law Initiative in January 2017.

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Ahmer Bilal Soofi,

President – Research Society of International Law

Advocate Supreme Court of Pakistan.


Muhammad Oves Anwar

Director – Conflict Law Centre

Maira Sheikh

Senior Research Fellow

Moghees Uddin Khan

Research Fellow

Zainab Mustafa

Research Associate

Minahil Khan

Research Associate

Table of Contents

Chapter 1 Counter-Terrorism and International Human Rights Law

Chapter 2 Fundamental Rights and The Counter Terrorism Mechanism In Pakistan

Chapter 3 Terrorism and The Waging Of War Under The Code Of Criminal Procedure, 1898 And The Pakistan Penal Code, 1860

Chapter 4 Human Rights and The Anti-Terrorism Act 1997

Chapter 5 The Protection Of Pakistan Act, 2014

Chapter 6 The Pakistan Army Act 1952 And The Jurisdiction Of Military Courts

Chapter 7 The Actions (In Aid Of Civil Power) Regulations, 2011