The International Commission of Jurists (ICJ) has condemned the conviction of rights activist Idrees Khattak by a military court in Pakistan and has demanded his immediate release.
Earlier, Khattak had gone missing in November 2019. His whereabouts were finally revealed by the defense ministry in June 2020, when the latter told the Commission of Inquiry on Enforced Disappearances that Khattak was being tried under the Official Secrets Act, 1923.
“Idrees Khattak was subjected to the serious crime of enforced disappearance and instead of bringing the perpetrators of this violation to account… [he has been convicted] in a military court in a secret, sham trial”.
According to the ICJ, the conduct for which Khattak was tried dates back to July 2009. Khattak was associated with Amnesty International and had been investigating enforced disappearances in Balochistan and erstwhile tribal areas.
Upon finding out that Khattak was being tried by a military court, his brother filed a petition in the Peshawar High Court (PHC), challenging the military court jurisdiction but the court rejected the appeal in January 2021.
While reacting to the news on social media, many questioned the process through which Khattak was convicted.
Legal commentator Reema Omer expressed the concern that Khattak could not appeal his sentence in a civilian court.
One social media user questioned how a civilian can be tried under the Army Act.
Amnesty International demanded that Khattak’s family be given clarity.
Khattak can appeal his sentence before an appellate tribunal and then before the army chief.