JUSTICE AND POLICE
JUSTICE AND POLICE:This whole system of justice and policing is so fraught with inefficiency, corruption, victimization and egregious excesses that it will need a complete revamp.
· Uniform application of the law to the rich, the poor, and the illiterate
· Rewriting of legal code to free it of colonial influence
· Use Pakistani lawyers not foreign ‘consultants’ to draft the new law
· Reduce delays in the delivery of justice
· Hence: double the number of courtrooms and judges within 5 years
The central plank of Mustaqbil’s justice policy will be to guarantee the absolute and complete independence of the judiciary from any external influence whatsoever. No one – not the government, not the prime minister, not the president, not the army – will be allowed to influence or interfere with the working of the courts.
We will ensure that the law is applied uniformly, to all citizens regardless of social status, religion or creed. People of influence and power will no longer be able to violate the law with impunity. And people of limited means – the poor and the illiterate – will no longer be victimized: they will not be allowed to languish in jail awaiting trials that are endlessly delayed. They will no longer be subject to arbitrary arrest and detention without a court order. They will no longer be second class citizens. All citizens of Pakistan will be made equal in the eyes of the law.
Bringing all this into effect will not only require a change in mind set, but also a fundamental re-writing of the legal code. Pakistan’s legal code is, at best, archaic. Much of it dates back to colonial times. Parliament must enact a complete refurbishment of the laws. This is one of many reasons why Mustaqbil will insist that all its candidates for parliament be educated professionals.
Historically, efforts to rewrite laws have been cosmetic and piecemeal. Expensive foreign legal consultants have been brought in to do the drafting for a rubber stamp parliament. Mustaqbil vows not to use any foreign help in a matter that is so crucially ‘local’. We believe that our home-grown legal talent is second to none. We intend to put them to work.
The number of judges and courtrooms will be increased significantly to handle the existing workload. Justice, if it is to be fair, must be dispensed promptly. It is unacceptable that the legal infrastructure, in terms of judges and courtrooms, remains substantially today – for a nation of 170 million – as it did, many decades ago, when we had 40 million people. A plaintiff who files a case today has to wait several years, or decades for a decision. Delay is the antithesis of justice. And if there is a single, central theme that runs through Mustaqbil’s ideology it is the concept of justice. We will not tolerate injustice in any form.
• Redesign system of policing from scratch to bring about fundamental change in the ‘culture’ of policing in Pakistan
• Police personnel to be trained to interact with the public with respect and courtesy, and to serve and protect the public not to intimidate, torture and harass
• Police stations to be made places where the public is comfortable to enter and to discuss their concerns or problems
• The above to be concurrent with public education programs to encourage more respect for and cooperation with the police
It is imperative that all police personnel – from a constable to an inspector general – be trained to deal with the public. Mustaqbil believes that the police are there to serve and protect the public – not to intimidate, coerce or otherwise harass them. This has to be ingrained in their training. The police must learn to treat members of the public – all members whether they be rich or poor, black or white, dishevelled or well dressed – with extreme respect and courtesy. Police stations must be places where people feel comfortable enter, where they receive a courteous reception, and where their concerns or problems are heard with sympathy.
This will mean a fundamental change in ‘culture’ of the police force. It may not happen overnight. But Mustaqbil vows that it will happen.
• End present methods of ‘investigation’ in which people are rounded up without warrants on hunches, and tortured to extract confessions
• Those who continue to indulge in this practice to feel full force of the law
• Replace the existing ‘method’ with modern forensic techniques under strict control of the courts: no arrest without a warrant, no physical abuse of prisoners in any way
The way that investigation is now conducted is absolutely unacceptable: Suspects are rounded up on unsubstantiated hunches, and without a warrant. They are then ‘questioned’ this is a shameful euphemism for what can only be described as torture. This we will not accept. And those who indulge in it – at whatever level in the police, or government or any of its agencies – will bear the full wrath of the system.
We propose to bring police investigation in line with the best practices now followed in the West: No arrest or search without an unambiguous court order, interrogation (and only interrogation) under carefully controlled and judicially approved procedures, use of modern forensic methods to generate evidence, etc.
The police cannot operate in a vacuum. There must be a clearly defined legal framework to detail and delimit the working of the police force. This task will fall upon the legislature. And Mustaqbil – to the extent that it gains a working majority in the houses of parliament – will not be found wanting in generating and enacting this framework.
• Condition of our jails is unacceptable
• This is both inhumane and encourages corruption
• Hence we will build new jails and upgrade old ones so that prisoners do not lose their human dignity and self respect
There are two problems with this:
One, it is simply inhumane to detain prisoners in an environment which all but strips them of their basic human dignity.
And two, it is an invitation to corruption: Those who are able to afford it, even if they are innocent, will pay whatever is necessary to avoid being sent there even for a short time while their cases are decided. This is why we see this strange phenomenon of ‘bail before arrest’. In the end, the condition of our jails is a statement about us and our worth as a civil society. By this standard, today, we rank amongst the lowest of the low. Mustaqbil will do all in its power to lift the standard of our jails to an acceptable level.
Crime Prevention• Police cannot alone prevent crime. Hence:
– Reduce poverty, hopelessness, unemployment
– Interdict easy availability of weapons and drugs
Mustaqbil recognizes that the police alone cannot prevent crime. Responsibility for this falls on all of us – the government, the public, and the legislature. So long as there is grinding poverty, and debilitating unemployment, and hopelessness, there will be crime. And, so long as deadly firearms are as available as easily as chewing gum, there will be crime. And so long as the government of the day is oblivious to the suffering of the people, or is unable to alleviate it, there will be crime. This is a challenge that requires multidisciplinary coordination of all available resources and minds to achieve a laser like focus on this clearly existential threat to our society and nation. We believe the only party which can do this is Mustaqbil. ..