For Al Jazeera:
Tribes in Pakistan’s FATA region are struggling to repeal a colonial-era, collective punishment law.
When armed men blew up a power station in Mohmand Agency two years ago, security forces came to the local press club and arrested Saeed Badshah and a fellow journalist. “The power station was near my home,” Badshah explained, “so under the collective responsibility clauses of the Frontier Crimes Regulations, we were detained until the culprits were produced by residents”.
Badshah was lucky – authorities released him within a day, but only after intense media pressure. However, many other residents of the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA) have not been so fortunate.
More than seven million inhabitants of FATA are governed by the Frontier Crimes Regulations (FCR), a law drawn up by British colonial rulers in 1901 that allows the punishment of entire tribes for crimes committed by members.
In 113 years, Pakistan has not made substantial changes to the law. Presidentially-appointed bureaucrats, called “political agents”, can order whole villages to be burnt down and tribes to be blockaded or sent into exile. Pakistan’s constitution excludes FATA from the jurisdiction of the country’s courts, and no law passed by parliament is applicable there, either.
Now lawyers and activists from FATA are looking to the Peshawar High Court for help.
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