Karachi, February 10: PILDAT organised here today a rigorous briefing session entitled “Strengthening Rule of Law in Pakistan” for Members of Sindh Provincial Assembly (MPAs) and local media persons. PILDAT’s Rule of Law (RoL) Committee of Experts briefed MPAs and journalists on key issues and proposed reforms to strengthen Rule of Law and access to justice in Pakistan.
During the session, PILDAT Rule of Law Committee of Experts presented a proposed Rule of Law Reform Agenda. The agenda has been prepared through countrywide consultations held by PILDAT since August 2015 with public representatives, subject experts, legal practitioners and journalists to discuss specific ways and means for strengthening of Police, Prosecution Services, and Free Legal Aid systems in Pakistan.
In a robust discussion that followed during the session, participants agreed that Police-Prosecution liaison at Police Station-level is necessary for creating an effective justice system. They called on the government to increase funding for Police and its Investigation Branch for effective prosecution. A general consensus emerged that Legal Aid System needs a major overhaul for which a Free Legal Aid Authority should be established. Participants also called upon the media to report on and advocate for the need of an effective criminal justice system.
Dr. Fouzia Hameed, MNA and Member of Executive Committee of Parliamentary Caucus on Rule of Law introduced the Caucus and its latest progress to participants. She shared that the newly formed Caucus is aiming to strengthen Rule of Law in Pakistan and desires to bring urgent reforms in key areas of Rule of Law i.e. Police, Prosecution & Free Legal Aid. She also assured that the Caucus intends to ensure implementation of existing legislation, and to highlight and address issues hindering Rule of Law in Pakistan.
Parliamentarians also lauded PILDAT’s efforts for building their awareness on Rule of Law and facilitating them with the proposed reform process. They also welcomed the proposed Reform Agenda presented at the briefing, and expressed their commitment to pursue it as part of their political and legislative priorities.
Participating Members of National and Sindh Assembly included Dr. Shazia Sobia, MNA, (Women, Sindh,PPPP); Ms. Shahida Rehmani, MNA, (Women, Sindh, PPPP); Ms. Khishwer Zehra, MNA, (Women, Sindh, MQM); Ms. Mahtab Akhbar Rashdi, MPA (RSW-156, PML (F)); Mr. Muhammad Hussain Khan, MPA (PS-95 KARACHI-VII, MQM); Mr. Waqar Hussain Shah, MPA (PS-128 KARACHI-XL, MQM); Mr. Nand Kumar, MPA (RSM-168, PML (F)); Mr. Sabir Hussain Kaim, MPA (PS-49Hyderabad, MQM); Mr. Muhammad Rashid Khilji, MPA (PS-46 HYDERABAD-II, MQM); Ms. Heer Soho, MPA (RSW-149, MQM); Syed Hafeezuddin, MPA (PS-93 KARACHI-V, PTI); Mr. Samar Ali Khan, MPA (PS-113 KARACHI-XXV, PTI); Mr. Kamran Akhtar, MPA (PS-91 KARACHI-III, MQM); Ms. Shamim Mumtaz, MPA (RSW-138, PPPP) and Ms. Kulsoom Akhtar Chandio, MPA (RSW-135, PPPP); Mr. Amir Haider Shah Sherazi, MPA (PS-85 Thatta II, PML-N); Ms. Sorath Thebo, MPA (RSW-158 PML-N) and Dr. Muhammad Rafique, MPA (PS-31, Khairpur-III PML-F).
The PILDAT RoL Committee of Experts comprises Dr. Shoaib Suddle, Former IG Police; Dr. Suhail Shahzad, Dean, Faculty of Law & Administrative Sciences, Hazara University; Mr. Muhammad Ali Nekokara, Former SSP Police; Ms. Ayesha Hamid, Advocate High Court and Mr. Ahmad Bilal Mehboob, President PILDAT.
Key points of the Rule of Law Reform Agenda presented before the Parliamentarians include:
- Allocation of funds and increase in budget for Police;
- Amendment in Section 154 of Code of Criminal Procedure 1898;
- FIRs to be made simple, online and computerised;
- No arrest to be made after FIR without evidence;
- Protection of witnesses through enactment of relevant laws to prevent resiling testimony from witnesses;
- Establishment of Legal Aid Authority at Federal and Provincial level; and
- Enactment of Public Defenders & Legal Aid Office Ordinance 2007.
The Briefing 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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