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Pakistan reforms criminal justice system

Islamabad: Pakistan announced sweeping criminal justice reforms to do equal justice to the poor and to the rich.

“For the first time in the history of Pakistan, we are making this effort to ensure rule of law in the country” and move towards effective and swift dispensation of justice,” Prime Minister Imran Khan said on Thursday. He termed effective and fairness of the justice system the state’s responsibility, saying the government’s reforms in the civil and criminal procedure would ensure justice faster.

Addressing the launch ceremony of ‘Criminal Law and Justice Reforms’ in Islamabad, the prime minister said the massive amendments would “bring a revolution in the criminal justice system” and make justice accessible for the common man. “Without rule of law, the country cannot progress,” he said.

The reforms are aimed at strengthening the criminal justice system of Pakistan from police reform and investigative process to prosecution and judiciary services to challenges to prison management and human rights protection. An effective criminal justice system is a prerequisite for upholding the rule of law in the country and has long been the demand of the public.

PM Khan congratulated the Ministry of Law and Justice and particularly Law Minister Farogh Naseem and his team for drafting the reforms, terming it a “defining moment” in the country’s history. For the first time, the government has announced changes in the laws of the country that inherited its common law system from the period of British rule.

Law Minister Barrister Farogh Naseem said that over 700 amendments have been introduced to overhaul the existing legal system and ensure rule of law which is built on the cornerstone of an independent, efficient, and effective judicial system. Detailing the amendments, the minister said that the formation of a statute of an independent prosecution service, forensic laboratory and prison rules were some of the key reforms. A law had been enforced for mandatory budget dispensation to police stations to meet the expenses of investigation and the trial judge would be accountable e a high court if he failed to decide a case within nine months.

Parliamentary Secretary for Law Maleeka Bokhari said “over 700 amendments in the criminal procedure code were a milestone achievement for the PTI government” that would ensure prompt delivery of justice in a system where the wealthy and powerful exploited the loopholes in the justice system to evade justice.

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