INSAF Network Pakistan (INP) is striving to uphold the rule of law in Pakistan through policy advocacy for legal reforms, institutional capacity strengthening, awareness raising and facilitating access to justice for the poor and oppressed segments of our society, particularly women, elderly, ethnic and religious minorities. INP is implementing a project to “Protect the Right to Fair Trial and Due Process in Pakistan” at a national level. The overarching goal of the project is “To improve protection of the right to fair trial for citizens accused of crimes in Pakistan, especially religious minorities, as evidenced by improvement in the Fair Trial Index before and after program intervention”. The project adopts an inclusive approach as characterized in the following objectives.
- To design and advocate for evidence-based legislative reforms in Pakistan, which define the basic guarantees for fair trial and due process provided to the accused in criminal cases, in accordance with globally accepted standards of legal practice and requirements of national context.
- Justice providers have greater capacity to fulfill their due responsibilities for protecting the right to fair trial and due process, especially where the accused are religious minorities and women.
- Ordinary citizens (especially youth) have a deeper understanding of due process, resulting in greater citizen accountability of justice providers for delivering fair trials and mobilization of support for policy reform.
The salient feature of the project is the development of an instrument (tool) that would be marked by criteria to gauge the adherence to the protection of right to fair trial and due process in criminal cases. Such criteria would be developed in close consultation with the criminal justice service providers and stakeholders and would comprise of an agreed set of minimum guarantees necessary to ensure fair trial and due process in Pakistan. The project would study the case information through police files, court files and interviews with the defendants and their litigants. This information would then be assessed as per the aforementioned criteria and a “Fair Trial Index (FTI)” would be developed. The FTI would elaborate a comparative quantitative analysis of adherence to fair trial and due process throughout Pakistan. The findings of the FTI would feed into the development of a comprehensive evidence based FTI report that would include evidence to support policy advocacy efforts of INP for legal reforms concerning fair trial in Pakistan.
At the same time, INP would focus on strengthening institutional capacity by capacitating the criminal justice service providers on significance of fair trial and due process. INP would also launch media campaign and a series of seminars with the educated youth of Universities and law colleges and sensitize them on their basic and fundamental human rights with special focus on right to fair trial and due process, in case they ever come in direct or indirect conflict with the law. INP, through this project would capacitate the young law graduates on humanitarian aspects of law to inculcate rights based perspective in dispensation of justice to the accused. The project would also lay down special emphasis on women and religious minorities in accessing fair and impartial justice in Pakistan.
The project would be implemented in five locations (Islamabad, Peshawar, Lahore, Karachi and Quetta) across Pakistan to assess the respect and protection of the right to Fair Trial for the accused. The project would function in close coordination and consultation with the relevant stakeholders (Parliamentarians, Judiciary, Police, LEAs, Prosecution, Probation, Prison departments, Legal fraternity, Academia and Media) to assess the gaps and challenges in dispensation of justice to the needy, marginalized and vulnerable population groups (women, elderly, religious minorities) in a fair and impartial manner. The project would also seek recommendations from the relevant stakeholders; and along with the evidence gathered through FTI, would carry out policy advocacy with the parliamentarians and the law makers for legal reforms to improve and strengthen respect and protection of right to fair trial and due process in Pakistan. This would be achieved by putting up a legislative bill in every assembly at national and provincial level.
INP strongly believes that this initiative would strengthen the overall rule of law situation in Pakistan by promoting respect and protection of the right to fair trial and due process in criminal cases. At the same time this initiative would contribute towards building the institutional capacity in dispensation of fair and impartial justice to the deserving and marginalized population groups, particularly women and religious minorities. It would also enhance deeper understanding among general masses, especially youth about their rights, specifically right to fair trial and due process.