HRCP urges 'due process' in trial of May 9 vandals, rejects prosecution under army laws

Human rights body strongly opposes use of Pakistan Army Act 1952 and Official Secrets Act 1923 to try civilians

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Web Desk
A boy rides past a paramilitary check post, that was set afire by the supporters of PTI Chairman Imran Khan, during a protest against his arrest, in Karachi, Pakistan May 9, 2023. — Reuters
A boy rides past a paramilitary check post, that was set afire by the supporters of PTI Chairman Imran Khan, during a protest against his arrest, in Karachi, Pakistan May 9, 2023. — Reuters 

  • HRCP strongly opposes using military laws to try civilians.
  • Urges vandals' accountability via "due process".
  • Demands past cases be transferred to civil courts.


After the military vowed to try May 9 vandals under the Pakistan Army Act 1952 and Official Secrets Act 1923, the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP) strongly opposed the decision issuing a statement against its use on Wednesday.

Calling for accountability for the destruction across cities, the human rights body demanded that "due process" be followed for civilians who were found involved in damaging public and private property including those owned by the military after protestors barged into cantonment areas.

The organisation, working to protecting human rights and democratic values, took to Twitter to issue its statement.

"HRCP strongly opposes the use of the Pakistan Army Act 1952 and Official Secrets Act 1923 to try civilians. While those responsible for arson and damaging public and private property during the recent protests should be held to account, they remain entitled to due process," the human rights body tweeted.

In its tweet disagreeing with the use of the military acts against civilians, the HRCP further mentioned that cases of even those who have been previously tried under these acts must have their trials shifted to civil courts.

"All those civilians tried under these acts in the past should also have their cases transferred to civil courts," their tweet added.

Owing to the violent protests triggered by the arrest of Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) Chairman Imran Khan last week, the Inter-Services Public Relations issued a statement on Monday conveying the military's decision to try vandals under the military's acts.

The military's top brass — in a Special Corps Commanders Conference (CCC) held at the General Headquarters with Chief of Army Staff (COAS) General Asim Munir in the chair — vowed to try protesters and their abettors under relevant laws, including the Pakistan Army Act and the Official Secrets Act, as they stormed military installations.

"The forum expressed [a] firm resolve that those involved in these heinous crimes against the military installations and personal/ equipment will be brought to justice through trials under relevant laws of Pakistan including Pakistan Army Act and Official Secret Act," a statement by the ISPR mentioned.

PTI, the Khan-led party, also considers the statement “immensely important” and has called for an inquiry into the events that unfolded last week.