Lahore, Saturday, November 21, 2015: Speakers at the Consultative Session on Effective Prosecution and Legal Aid System Pakistan included Ms. Ayesha Hamid, Senior Advocate Lahore High Court (left); Mr. Ihtasham Qadir; Prosecutor-General, Punjab (second from left), Mr. Azam Nazeer Tarar, Vice Chairman Pakistan Bar Council (centre); Mr. Ahmed Bilal Mehboob, President PILDAT (third from right); Dr Shoaib Suddle, Former Inspector General (IG) Sindh & Balochistan (second from right); and, Mr. Shahid Hamid, Senior Advocate Supreme Court (right).
Other participants of the session included Senator Mohsin Khan Leghari; Dr. Shazra Mansab Ali, PML-N, Ms. Ayesha Javed, W-317 (PML-N); Ms. Saadia Sohail Rana, W-355 (PTI); Mr. Pir Masood Chisti, President, Lahore High Court; Dr. Sohail Shahzad, Dean, Faculty of Law, Hazara University (second from right); Mr. Munir Hussain Bhatti, Chairman Free Legal Committee, Punjab Bar Council, Honorable Dr. Anwar Khan Gondal, Additional Prosecutor General, Mujeeb ur Rahman Shami, Senior Journalist; and Intekhab Hanif, Special Correspondent, Dawn.
The Consultative Session concluded with concrete recommendations while highlighting that the quality of prosecution that has significantly improved since the creation of an independent prosecution service in 2006. All stakeholders agreed that police-prosecution liaison at the ‘thana’ (police station) is essential for an effective justice system. It was also pointed out that the government must increase funding for police and its Investigation Branch in order to strengthen the quality of evidence at trial. The need to equip police officers with modern technological knowledge and tools was emphasised by participants at the session.
It was agreed that the current Legal Aid System needs a major overhaul, and in this regard a recommendation for establishing a Free Legal Aid Authority was put forward. With respect to media coverage of crime and trials, it was pointed out that reporters and journalists should be sensitised so that accused persons are not subjected to harsh ‘media trials’ before being proved guilty in court.
The consultative session was organised by PILDAT as part of “Reforms in Rule of Law in Pakistan” project, supported by Development Alternatives Inc. (DAI) under the Enhanced Democratic Accountability and Civic Engagement (EDACE) project.
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