Poor prosecution

Supreme Court has criticised investigation quality in cases, whether at local level or of highest profile.

The recent acquittal in Quetta of two brothers accused of being behind the recording and release of obscene videos of several young women whom they were blacking is another reminder of the failure of the government to protect citizens and deliver justice to victims. While it is true that lack of resources dedicated to investigations and prosecution means cases are often not as strong as they could be, very often, the reason many criminals walk free is the ineptitude, or at least unwillingness, of law enforcement authorities to investigate cases properly, and of prosecutors to do their part and ensure cases are bulletproof, or at least not full of holes to begin with. Even the Supreme Court has criticised investigation quality in cases, whether at local level or of the highest profile.

In the Quetta case, a sessions court hearing the two brothers’ appeal said the prosecution had not substantiated the case against them. While the full judgement will carry more details on the shortcomings in the government’s case, poor prosecution is not just a problem at local level — successive Pakistani governments have failed to get the desired results in cases ranging from corruption and financial scams to international arbitration over bilateral dealings. Even if we ignore cases that some may argue were politically motivated, even confessions taken in Pakistan are often unacceptable at international level because of the physical and mental torture dealt upon many suspects. We have seen several cases where policemen admitted to using unscrupulous methods to force confessions from ‘obviously guilty’ suspects to speed up cases, only for evidence to later prove they could not have committed the crimes, and just said yes to make the torture stop. There are also cases of clear bias and conflicts of interest not getting proper consideration. This is especially true in cases involving marginalised communities or individuals with limited resources.

Without reforms to ensure quality investigations, mistrust of the system will only increase, and further lawlessness will ensue.

Read more