A joint declaration by the opposition parties on Thursday called for new accountability laws that do not allow for the arrest of a person before charges are framed against them.
A statement issued by the parties following an All Parties Conference organised by the Pakistan Bar Council in Islamabad noted the following:
– With consultation of all political parties and stakeholders new accountability laws must be drafted.
– These laws must be in accordance with the fundamental criteria of justice and transparency.
– Under the new accountability system, all institutions and people must be held accountable under a single law and by a single entity.
– To hold someone in custody before a trial begins must be declared illegal.
– To grant an institution exemption is in violation of the rules of justice. Therefore all government positions must also be held accountable under the same, unified system of accountability.
The meeting was attended by members of the Bar Council as well as Supreme Court Bar Association, besides various political parties.
The discussion revolved around the current mechanism of judicial appointments, the current accountability system, and the dismal state of civilian and personal liberties.
In the matter of the appointment of judges, it was declared that the current method is “highly unsatisfactory”.
“The current system of appointments is a great obstacle in the way of a free and professional judiciary, and in fact, the judicial commission is now unfortunately a consortium of judges,” the declaration said.
The declaration demands that judicial appointments (Article 175-A) and the system of accountability be reviewed and the 19th Amendment to the Constitution be abolished.
It has been proposed that a new forum be created where the parliament has an effective role and with an equal representation of all stakeholders including the administration, bar councils, and the judiciary come together under one platform and make merit-based and transparent decisions.
“A free, transparent and fair system strengthens the foundations of good governance in the country,” the meeting noted.
The declaration stated: “The current accountability system has not only been rendered dysfunctional, ineffective and controversial but is being used as a tool for political engineering.”
“We strongly condemn this,” it added.