Does Pakistan's Justice System Comply With The International Law?

The justice system in Pakistan is in crisis due to which the civil and political rights, enshrined in the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (the ICCPR), cannot be enjoyed by the people of Pakistan. The Pakistan government has unfortunately failed institutions of justice such as the prosecution system, policing system, prison system, and judicial system. None of these institutions of justice is adequately capable of protecting the civil and political rights of the citizens in Pakistan because of incompetent and inefficient govt officials. Moreover, the issue is compounded with the government's inadequate funds for the justice processes.

The practice of ill-treatment and the use of torture is widespread. The cases of illegal arrest and detention, forced disappearence, which are very common in Pakistan show the right to a fair trial is easily denied. The undue delays without proper adjudication and affordability constrains the people of lower classes in vicious cycle of poverty and corruption.

Another major issue in Pakistan is discrimination based on gender. Many women across Pakistan are killed in the name of honour. And many of the women suffer from abuse and marriage-related issues which include forced marriages, dowry, and domestic violence. The disparities in education and health are also evident and people living below poverty line thus remain trapped. They have fewer resources at disposal for trials, judicial processes.

Another big issue is the religious intolerance evident from the attacks on minorities. The major minority groups in Pakistan are Christians, Hindus, Ahmadis, and even the minor sects of Islam. The violence against minority groups has been worsening for the past few years. The civil and political rights exist in name only. For example, as per Article 2 of ICCPR, it is an obligation on the state to provide legislative, judicial, and administrative measures but the government of Pakistan tends to not honour it. The rule of law is absolute and for all. It is responsibility of the government to ensure that all citizens, regardless of class or sect, enjoy the rights stated in the ICCPR and other major United Nations conventions that Pakistan is signatory of.

These Human Rights conventions cannot work in a state where there seems to be no respect for human rights and criminal justice system has severe loopholes. Incidents such as custodial torture have further reduced public confidence. The people have lost faith in the police department and they tend to not approach the police in case of any grievances. As a result, the cases related to human rights abuse mostly go unaddressed and unreported.

If we focus on the above-mentioned issues we can say that custodial torture, extrajudicial killings, arbitrary arrest, and forced disappearances are the factors and issues arising from dysfunctional judicial system. The continuous rise in such cases and the rights being abused by the state speaks volumes about the condition of human rights in the country. With such conditions prevailing in a state, it is difficult for vulnerable citizens to survive. Almost every day hundreds of lives are lost because of the abuse of state action and crimes related to that.

I must say that only ratifying ICCPR and other United Nations conventions will not be enough unless the bottlenecks are addressed. There must be proper implementation of the provisions contained in such documents and conventions.