Karachi, February 26th: In wide-ranging dialogue with local media persons held here today, criminal justice and legal experts opined that immediate reforms are needed in Pakistan, and especially in Sindh province, to improve the Rule of Law situation, and for which media can play a very important role.
The Dialogue with Media on Rule of Law Reforms was organized by PILDAT, during which PILDAT’s Rule of Law (RoL) Committee of Experts highlighted key issues and proposed reforms to strengthen Rule od Law and access to justice in Pakistan. Prominent media persons and members of Provincial Assembly Sindh joined the lively discussion. Participants agreed that lack of uniform implementation of Rule of Law has become an alarming issue for Pakistan. All major issues – such as rise in terrorism, corruption, sluggish economic growth, flight of talent and capital, dysfunctional justice system, etc. – are actually manifestations of a weak rule of law.
During the session, the PILDAT Committee of Experts also shared with the media a Reform Agenda for Rule of Law. 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 Police, Prosecution Services, and Free Legal Aid system 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 lauded PILDAT’s efforts for building their awareness on Rule of Law and facilitating them with the proposed reform process. They also the proposed Reform Agenda presented at the Session.
Speakers of the session endorsed the need for training journalists for effective
reporting and analyses on various aspects of Rule of Law. They also encouraged
journalists to use the Right to Information law frequently as well as to continuously
play their watchdog role. They urged the media to report on and advocate for
the need of an effective criminal justice system.
Mr. Ahmed Bilal Mehboob, President, PILDAT stated that media should act as an ally in strengthening a Rule of Law movement in Pakistan for public interest.
The PILDAT Committee of Experts who spoke at the Briefing included Dr. Shoaib Suddle, Former IG Police; Dr. Suhail Shahzad, Dean, Faculty of Law & Administrative Sciences, Hazara University; and Mr. Muhammad Ali Nekokara, Former SSP Police.
Key points of the Rule of Law Reform Agenda shared with the media and other civil society actors 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 Dialogue 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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