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Call for amending PPO before enactment

05 February, 2014

ISLAMABAD: Speakers at a panel discussion urged the government to amend the Pakistan Protection Ordinance (PPO) bill before enacting it.

The panel, organised by the Insaf Network (INP) and titled "PPO, its legal implications and its effects on human rights", discussed the Protection of Pakistan (Amendment) Ordinance 2014 bill which is pending enactment in the National Assembly and may come into force imminently. The bill was approved in October 2013 by President Mamnoon Hussain. It is aimed at providing protection to Pakistan against those attempting to wage a war against it or to prevent various elements from threatening or damaging the country's security.

However, the ordinance has been challenged in the Islamabad High Court (IHC), and the government is yet to respond. In addition to this a petition is pending in the Supreme Court. Advocate Tariq Asad of the Supreme Court and Advocate Colonel (r) Inamur Rehman of the high court jointly filed the petition against the Pakistan Protection (Amendment ) Ordinance. They claimed that the provisions of the ordinance are inconsistent with the fundamental rights of Pakistan's citizens.

At the panel discussion, INP legal counsel Yasser Latif Hamdani highlighted a "controversial clause" that he said required immediate review.

"The clause that allows any officer to enter and search any premises, make any arrest, take possession of any property, weapon or article used, or likely to be used, in the commission of any scheduled offence, without a warrant." He also stressed the need for change in the law. As it stands, he said, the law "allows law enforcement agencies to lock up any person if they fail to prove their identity and a court cannot question their detention".

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