Lahore, May 25: The Human Rights Commission of Pakistan has expressed concern at denial of due process rights to Dr Shakil Afridi, the man accused of helping the US find Osama bin Laden who has been convicted to 33 years in prison, and demanded that irrespective of the charges against him he must get a fair trial.
A statement by HRCP on Friday said: “One is concerned about the security of the country, but that cannot be made the basis of denying rule of law to anyone. HRCP notes with concern that the trial of Dr Afridi falls well short of the due process standards on many counts, not least because the core principle of natural justice has been ignored and Afridi denied due legal assistance. The question of trying Dr. Afridi on charges of treason also remains controversial. His actions may well have been prompted by the declared policy of the State to fight all forms of terrorism in sincerity. Irrespective of the charge against him, there was no reason for trying Afridi in a tribal court, when the supposed offence had taken place in Abbotabad, nor for denying him a public trial or legal assistance of his choice. Such treatment has given rise to perceptions that the only reason he was tried by a tribal court was to deprive him of the rights guaranteed under the constitution of Pakistan. HRCP calls upon the government to ensure that Dr Afridi gets a fair trial and is afforded an opportunity to defend himself against the charge brought against him. That is every citizen’s right and there is no reason why Dr Afridi’s case should be an exception.”