Judge, jury, executioner – 20 Feb 2023

EVERY individual, even a murderer or a rapist, has a right to due process regardless of how strong the evidence against them. Until that principle underpins the working of the criminal justice system in Pakistan, the rule of law will remain a pipe dream. That was the message conveyed by human rights activists at a press conference in Islamabad on Friday when they accused Islamabad Police of the extrajudicial killing of two suspects they had arrested for raping a woman inside the city`s F-9 park earlier this month. The law-enforcement authority on Thursday morning announced that two gunmen on a motorbike were killed in an exchange of fire when they attacked a police picl
Having confirmed that they were the men who had attacked her, she was once again asked to do the same after their bodies were brought to the hospital following the `encounter`.

It is a shame that by acting as judge, jury and executioner, Islamabad Police negated the good work they had clearly done in tracing and apprehending the suspected rapists. Their mandate, as pointed out at the press conference, is limited to catching lawbreakers: it is for the courts to prosecute and punish such individuals if they are guilty. It appears that the police did not expect their illegal action to be exposed, especially when the weight of evidence was against the suspects. However, it is commendable that rights activists, particularly the victim`s own lawyer, have condemned the extrajudicial killing. A systemic change can only come about when the law is applied across the board.

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