Osama Bin Javaid's Blog

Afzal Guru: Justice or blotch on India’s justice system

Posted in News by osamabinjavaid on February 9, 2013

No formal curfew but cable and internet service is suspended in Indian occupied Kashmir.

The steps have been taken after the man accused of plotting to attack the Indian parliament (in 2001) has been hanged.

Many believe that  Afzal Guru’s trial does not meet international standards for a fair trial.

He should have had due process, legal counsel and the presumption of innocent until proven guilty – all elements which were denied to the accused.

Afzal Guru was a fruit vendor from a small Kashmiri town alleged to have links with the banned group Jaish E Muhammad.

He was arrested with four others in 2001. One of the accused was acquitted and the death sentences of the other two were commuted.

The accused who was acquitted says the Indian machinery has carried out a grave injustice.

SAR Geelani says Guru was not provided a lawyer and even his family wasnt informed.

Guru’s wife Tabassum says she did not know that her clemency appeal had been rejected.

Under the law she has the right to meet her husband before the execution.

She insists the family has been threatened for years and her husband was tortured in jail.

But apart from the family and co-accused, rights groups have also blasted Indian authorities.

Human Rights Watch has condemned the execution. The group said in a statement that ‘the hanging of Afzal Guru, following closely behind the hanging of Ajmal Kasab in November, shows a very worrying trend by the Indian government.’

And the trend is deep entrenched in jingoistic media which has cheered executions – even in muddled circumstances.

Zee TV and others, with the consent of the government were involved a long media trial and even a film which falls under trying to prejudice an ongoing trial.

The police used the media to build their “guilty” plea by forcing Afzal Guru on a TV confession.

Sensible journalists’ pleas that he was disturbed and questions about a Bollywood-style confession were not heard by the courts.

Even Afzal Guru’s retracting his confession didn’t matter.

Questions will continue to haunt the dispensers of justice about the evidence and confession under duress which they used to build a case against Guru.

The death sentence is based on circumstantial evidence shrouded in procedural irregularities.

It’s unclear why Delhi High Court acknowledged that the investigating agency fabricated evidence yet upheld the verdict.

Opinion in India itself  is divided on whether a death penalty was warranted.

Dealing with terrorism is tricky business and involves treading a fine line between justice and joining the extremes.

Whether it was Kasab or Guru, they were both executed in a build-up to elections and the budget. Political considerations have played a huge role in these executions as the BJP and Congress fight for votes.

Justice in the world’s largest democracy remains shady despite India signing the International convention on civil and human rights back in 1979.

As one of my favourite authors aptly puts it “Democracy without justice is Demon-Crazy”

——————

Another good read: Clemency — for the right reasons http://www.hindu.com/2006/10/09/stories/2006100901901000.htm

Advertisements

SHUT UP OR DIE

A dear friend, a bold journalist a brave man was killed in pursuit of the truth. Saleem Shahzad leaves behind three children and a widow. The mourners under their wails and tears still have no clue why was their father killed. Since his abduction from Pakistan’s fortified federal capital to the discovery of his bruised mortal remains, the message is to hammer home the chilling threat to all those who strive to inform.

Rest in peace, we will not be silenced.

UPDATE:

After a successful 24 hr sit in by journalists demanding justice, the ineffective government made matters worse. The journalists from all over Pakistan demanded a judicial inquiry by appointing a judge who refused to head the investigation because the GOP didnt bother to ask the chief justice before appointing one of his subordinates.

On June 17, the ISPR released the following statement after Asma Jehangir said data of calls and texts from Saleem Shahzad’s mobile was wiped out by the ISI.

“Spokesperson of ISPR voiced concern on unfounded and baseless insinuation’s being voiced in a section of print and electronic media against ISI in regard to murder of Journalist Saleem Shahzad. Such negative aspersions and accusations were also voiced against ISI in some previous cases but investigations proved those wrong.
The spokesperson strongly supported   formation of a Commission to investigate the murder of   Journalist Saleem Shahzad. The case must be investigated thoroughly and facts made known to the people, the spokesperson concluded.”

 

Here’s what happened earlier …

 

Missing people in Pakistan have become a sad reality. Wikileaks has revealed that DEMAND TO ACCOUNT FOR MISSING
DRAWS LIMITED GOVERNMENT COOPERATION

“….The Supreme Court’s activism on the issue is a brave and encouraging start, but there are a number of obstacles that will make solving the problem a serious challenge. Interior Ministry and Attorney General’s office must rely on information from Pakistan’s powerful intelligence agencies to comply with the Supreme Court’s order. So far, this pressure has generated a few releases — often abrupt affairs, in which detainees have reportedly been pushed out of cars, confused and disoriented, and left to find their way home. It remains to be seen whether the Court’s scrutiny will have a lasting effect on the way the intelligence agencies do business.…”

Here is a compilation of a very well articulated response by the Newspaper Society and the rest of the world on the sad demise of Saleem Shahzad, a courageous journalist. Will there be action, I doubt it, but still all we have are words as our weapons

STATEMENT OF PRESIDENT OF APNS

A leading newspaper publisher in Pakistan and the president of the nationwide newspapers body has reacted sharply to charges by the Inter Services`Intelligence Agency (ISI) that allegations by Human Rights Watch of the intelligence agency’s involvement in the murder of Pakistani journalist Salim Shahzad were “baseless” .

It has come to my notice that a spokesman of Inter Services Intelligence (ISI) while speaking to the official national news agency in Islamabad yesterday has questioned the “baseless allegations” leveled by Human Rights Watch on the basis of an E mail from Salim Shahzad, the Bureau Chief of the Hong Kong based Asia Times Online, in their possession . Mr Shahzad was mudered three days ago near Islamabad after being abducted by unknown persons.

“I wish to state on record that the e mail in the possession of Mr Ali Dayan, the monitor for Human Rights Watch (HRW) stationed in ,Lahore Pakistan, is indeed one of the three identical E mails sent by Mr Shahzad to HRW , his employers (Asia Times Online) and to his former employer, myself . I also wish to verify that allegations levied by HRW at the Inter services Intelligence (ISI) are essentially in complete consonance with the contents of the slain journalists E mail ”

“In their denial issued Wednesday an anonymous spokesman from the ISI has questioned the “baseless allegation” leveled against ISI by Mr Dayan of HRW. I wish to state on the record for the information of the officers involved in investigating journalist Salim Shahzad’s gruesome murder, that the late journalist confided to me and several others that he had received death threats from various officers of the ISI on at least three occasions in the past five years. Whatever the substance of these allegations , they form an integral part of Mr Shahzad’s last testimony. Mr Shahzad’s purpose in transmitting this information to three concerned colleagues in the media ,was not to defame the ISI but to avert a possible fulfillment of what he clearly perceived to be a death threat. The last threat which I refer to was recorded by Mr Shahzad by e mail with me, tersely phrased as “for the record”, at precisely 4.11 am on October18,2010, wherein he recounted the details of his meetings at the ISI headquarters in Islamabad between the Director General- Media Wing (ISI) Rear- Admiral Adnan Nazir, with the Deputy Director General of the Media Wing, Commodore Khalid Pervaiz, also being present on the occasion.

The ostensible agenda for this meeting was the subject of Mr Shahzads’s story of Asia Times Online with respect to the Pakistan government freeing of senior Afghan Taliban commander, Mullah Baraadar. Mr Shahzad informed the senior officials that he story was leaked by a intelligence channel in Pakistan, and confirmed thereafter by the ” most credible Taliban s source” . The senior officials present suggested to Mr Shahzad that he officially deny the story, which he refused to do, terming the official’s demand as “impractical”

The senior intelligence official was “curious” to identify the source of Mr Shahzad’s story claiming it to be a “shame” that such a leak should occur from the offices of a high profile intelligence service. Mr Shahzad additionally stated that the Rear -Adimral offered him some information, ostensibly “as a favour ” in the following words : ” We have recently arrested a terrorist and have recovered a lot of data, diaries and other materials during the interrogation. The terrorist had a hit list with him . If I find your name on the list I will certainly let you know.”

Mr Shahzad subsequently confirmed to me in a conversation that he not only interpreted this conversation as a veiled threat to his person. He also informed me that he let an official from the ISI know soon thereafter that he intended share the content of this threat with his colleagues ..

As President of the All Pakistan Newspapers Society (APNS) and as head of Pakistan’s leading media group I consider the the security of journalists to be of paramount importance. At present the APNS has officially committed itself to the creation of a national body for the investigations of serious threats to the lives of journalists, a body which the Committee to Protect the Journalists in New York, and other leading organizations in the Pakistani press and human rights bodies have promised to lend vigorous support to. Pakistan has one of the high rates in the world for journalists killings and such an environment is inimical to the functioning of democracy . The government and the intelligence agencies should take the investigation into Mr Shahzad’s murder seriously and examine his last testimony closely.

Whether the Oct 18th incident itself or his last article in the Asia Times Online ,that alleged Al-Qaeda penetration of the security curtain for Pakistani Naval establishment in Karachi hastened his murder is for the official investigation to uncover. And nobody not even the ISI should be above the law”.

Hameed Haroon
PRESIDENT
ALL PAKISTAN NEWSPAPERS SOCIETY
KARACHI

The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ)

The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) fully backs a call by its affiliate, the Pakistan Federal Union of Journalists (PFUJ), for the Government of Pakistan to establish by June 10 a judicial commission to investigate the disappearance and murder of Syed Saleem Shahzad.

PFUJ president Pervaiz Shaukat said journalists from throughout Pakistan would assemble in Islamabad and stage a sit-in at the Parliament if the commission was not set up by this date.

The deadline was set at a meeting of senior union leaders and journalists in Islamabad on June 2, where the PFUJ also sought unity with the All Pakistan Newspaper Society (APNS).

APNS president Hameed Haroon issued a statement on June 2 in which he confirmed Shahzad had reported receiving threatening messages on at least three occasions, allegedly from members of the intelligence arm of the Pakistan military, the Directorate of Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI).

“Whatever the substance of these allegations, they form an integral part of Mr Shahzad’s last testimony,” Haroon said in his statement. “Mr Shahzad’s purpose in transmitting this information to three concerned colleagues in the media was not to defame the ISI but to avert a possible fulfilment of what he clearly perceived to be a death threat.”

The head of the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan, Zohra Yusuf, was reported as saying that although there was no conclusive evidence, “circumstances seem to point to state security agencies because there have been other cases where journalists have been picked up”, according to Reuters.

The ISI denies involvement in the murder of Shahzad, 40, who disappeared in Islamabad on May 29. Shahzad’s tortured body was found on May 31 at Mandi Bahauddin, about 150km southeast of Islamabad in Punjab province.

On May 27, Shahzad published on Asia Times Online an investigative report into alleged links between Al-Qaeda and Pakistani naval officials. It was to be the first of a two-part series. However, an editor’s note on the website says Shahzad had not completed the second part of his report and it will therefore not be published.

“The IFJ commends the courage of journalists in Pakistan at this distressing and dangerous time,” IFJ Asia-Pacific Director Jacqueline Park said. “We and journalists around the world will not rest until all murderers of journalists in Pakistan are brought to justice.”

Black flags have been hoisted at union offices and press clubs throughout the country, and PFUJ members will conduct a protest outside the Parliament today.

Hong Kong-based Asia Times Online, for whom Shahzad was the Pakistan bureau chief, is establishing a trust fund for his wife Anita and three teenage children.

Hillary Rodham Clinton

The United States strongly condemns the abduction and killing of reporter Syed Saleem Shehzad. His work reporting on terrorism and intelligence issues in Pakistan brought to light the troubles extremism poses to Pakistan’s stability. We support the Pakistani government’s investigation into the circumstances surrounding his death.
We remain committed to helping the government and people of Pakistan as they work to bring peace and stability to the country.

Chairman Kerry Washington, DC

Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman John Kerry (D-MA) issued the following statement on the death of Syed Saleem Shahzad, the Asia Times Online’s Pakistan Bureau Chief:

“I was deeply shocked and saddened to hear about the recent abduction and murder of reporter Syed Saleem Shahzad. His reporting on critical national security and intelligence issues helped shed light on the difficult challenges confronting the region. His death is a blow to Pakistan’s fragile democracy and a chilling reminder of the dangers journalists continue to face in Pakistan. I hope that the Pakistani government’s investigation into his murder will be as a thorough as possible to hold those responsible accountable and deter another crime against members of the press.”

BRITISH Foreign Secretary William Hague said:

“I was shocked to hear of the abduction and killing of Pakistani journalist Syed Saleem Shazad. He courageously reported on the terrorism and extremism which has caused so much suffering to the people of Pakistan. His death highlights the dangers faced by those working for a stable Pakistan and our thoughts are with his family at this time of grief.

“I welcome the announcement of an investigation. It is vital that this is thorough and transparent and that those responsible are brought to justice.”

Joint Action: Pakistan – Thirty-five organizations call for murder investigations in Pakistan

Thirty-five organizations call for murder investigations in Pakistan

The International Federation of Journalists and 33 other members of the International Freedom of Expression Exchange (IFEX), including co-author the Committee to Protect Journalists, endorsed the following letter at IFEX’s General Meeting held in Beirut, Lebanon on May 30 and 31. The letter was also supported by the Pakistan Federal Union of Journalists.

Mr Asif Ali Zardari
President, Islamic Republic of Pakistan,

Mr Syed Yousuf Raza Gilani
Prime Minister, Islamic Republic of Pakistan

CC:

Mr Rehman Malik
Minister for Interior

Dr Firdaus Ashiq Awan
Minister for Information and Broadcasting

General Ashfaq Parvez Kayani
Chief of Army Staff

1 June 2011

Dear Mr President, Honourable Ministers and General Kayani,

RE: Journalists and Press Freedom Groups Call for Murder Investigations

We the undersigned members and partners of the International Freedom of Expression Exchange (IFEX) are writing with respect to express our deep concerns for the safety and welfare of journalists and media workers in Pakistan.

Representing the international community of journalists’ organisations and press freedom defenders gathered in Lebanon for IFEX’s bi-annual conference, we urge the Government of Pakistan and its law-enforcement and security agencies to take immediate and firm action to implement all appropriate measures to protect media personnel and to prosecute murderers of journalists in Pakistan.

In 2011, the tragic toll of dead and injured journalists and media workers placed Pakistan ahead of Iraq and Mexico as the world’s most dangerous country for journalists and media workers.

The killings have continued into 2011, with at least three journalists murdered in targeted attacks, including the killing of Nasrullah Afridi in Peshawar on May 10 and Syed Saleem Shahzad, whose body was found just yesterday.

We are deeply disturbed by Shahzad’s brutal murder, following his abduction in Islamabad on May 29. We note reports by Human Rights Watch that the Directorate of Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) may have been involved in his disappearance. We also note the potential connection between Shahzad’s murder and an article he published on May 27 about alleged links between Al-Qaeda and Pakistan Navy officials. We appeal to the Government of Pakistan and its security agencies to move with utmost urgency to identify Shahzad’s killers and bring to them to justice.

We fully appreciate the great difficulties confronting all people in Pakistan at this time. However, we also know that Pakistan has the resources and expertise to conduct credible investigations into murders of journalists and to bring culprits to justice.

Yet this is not happening and a culture of impunity prevails. Of all the murders of journalists in Pakistan over many years, the identification and prosecution of culprits has occurred only once in recent memory – in the internationally high-profile case of American journalist Daniel Pearl.

Pakistan’s law-enforcement authorities and security agencies at the provincial and federal levels have consistently failed to show the will to conduct full and proper investigations into all other murders of journalists in Pakistan.

Just a few examples where reports of investigations into murders are long overdue include the following:

• Hayatullah Khan, murdered, June 2006 in North Waziristan, after being abducted in December 2005.
• Allah Noor, murdered, Wana, February, 2005.
• Chishti Mujahid, murdered, February 2008, Quetta.
• Abdul Razzak Johra, murdered, Mianwali district, Punjab, November, 2008.
• Musa Khan Khel, murdered, Swat, February 2009.

The highly publicised investigation carried out by Peshawar High Court Judge Mohammed Reza Khan shortly after the killing of Hayatullah Khan has never been made public, despite repeated calls from the PFUJ and international media support groups.

In April 2009, the Pakistan Federal Union of Journalists (PFUJ) and its district affiliates urged your Government to set up a judicial commission to investigate the murder of Khan Khel. This followed an independent investigation by the Khyber Union of Journalists and the PFUJ after local authorities failed to initiate their own inquiry. We await results in this case.

In early 2010, the then Minister of State for Information and Broadcasting, Sumsam Ali Bukhari, acknowledged that Pakistan’s authorities and Interior Ministry had a responsibility to identify and arrest suspects. He gave an assurance to PFUJ members that the Sindh Government had been instructed to conduct a thorough investigation into the killing of Ashiq Ali Mangi in Khairpur, Sindh province, in February 2010. We await results in this case.

With respect, we remind you that your Government has a responsibility to protect and defend the rights of journalists and the media, in accordance with the Geneva Conventions, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and United Nations Security Council Resolution 1738.

As a signatory to the Geneva Conventions of 12 August 1949 and to the 1997 Additional Protocol on the Protection of Victims of Non-International Armed Conflicts (Protocol II), the Government of Pakistan and its security forces are obliged to ensure the protection of journalists as civilians.

Article 13 of Protocol II states: “The civilian population as such, as well as individual civilians, shall not be the object of attack. Acts or threats of violence the primary purpose of which is to spread terror among the civilian population are prohibited.”

The 2006 Security Council Resolution, which stresses the civilian status of journalists reporting in war zones and crisis areas within national borders, stipulates: “… that all parties to an armed conflict comply fully with the obligations applicable to them under international law related to the protection of civilians in armed conflict, including journalists, media professionals and associated personnel.”

Under the laws of Pakistan, the federal and provincial governments have a duty to require that law enforcement and security authorities utilise appropriate and transparent policing and judicial means to fully investigate all murders and disappearances of journalists.

We fully support the PFUJ in its recent request to Minister Malik to initiate and oversee a comprehensive inquiry and report into the killings of journalists in all of Pakistan’s provinces. We look forward to full public disclosure of all evidence and official records.

We further call on you to work with the PFUJ and Pakistani and international media support groups to establish an independent taskforce to act promptly on the findings of the Malik inquiry, including through the pursuit of full and proper investigations and prosecutions of cases.

Again, we respectfully request that you use your authority to reverse the culture of impunity and act on the grave concerns held by the international community of journalists and press freedom defenders for the welfare of our colleagues in Pakistan.

In the absence of investigations and the prosecution of offenders, the State is failing to provide the necessary deterrent to those who would use violence to silence and intimidate journalists and restrict the right of all people in Pakistan to information.

Yours Respectfully,

The Undersigned

1. Aliansi Jurnalis Independen (Alliance of Independent Journalists)
2. Arabic Network for Human Rights Information
3. ARTICLE 19: Global Campaign for Free Expression
4. Association of Caribbean Media Workers
5. Canadian Journalists for Free Expression
6. Center for Media Freedom and Responsibility
7. Center for Media Studies & Peace Building
8. Centre for Independent Journalism
9. Centro de Reportes Informativos sobre Guatemala
10. Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ)
11. Egyptian Organization for Human Rights
12. Freedom Forum
13. Freedom House
14. Free Media Movement
15. Globe International
16. Hong Kong Journalists Association
17. Independent Journalism Center
18. Index on Censorship
19. International Federation of Journalists (IFJ)
20. IPS Communication Foundation
21. Maharat Foundation (Skills Foundation)
22. Media Foundation for West Africa
23. Media Institute of Southern Africa
24. Media Rights Agenda
25. Media Watch
26. Mizzima News
27. National Union of Somali Journalists
28. Observatoire pour la liberté de presse, d’édition et de création
29. Pacific Islands News Association
30. Pakistan Press Foundation
31. Public Association “Journalists”
32. Southeast Asian Press Alliance
33. South East European Network for the Professionalization of the Media
34. Thai Journalists Association
NON-IFEX MEMBER SIGNATORY:
Pakistan Federal Union of Journalists (PFUJ)