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(New York) – in the police Pakistan Human Rights Watch said today that abusive measures have been used in the escalating confrontation between the police and Imran Khan’s supporters.

They baton-charged the protesters and detained them under broad anti-terror laws. The authorities should appropriately prosecute any supporters of the former prime minister who engage in unlawful acts of violence, uphold the right to peaceful protest, and refrain from the unlawful use of force.

“Pakistan’s use of vague and broad anti-terror provisions against opposition protesters is of great concern,” said Patricia Gossman, associate Asia director at Human Rights Watch. “If authorities believe that the actions of Khan or his supporters have resulted in violence or pose a genuine threat to public safety, they should be charged under the appropriate laws.”

Dozens of Pakistanis, including Khan from his political party Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI), have been charged Offenses of terrorism, criminal intimidation, riot, and assault Government officials after violent clashes between police and party members outside a courthouse in Islamabad on March 18. The clashes began when Khan arrived in court to face corruption charges. Dozens of police officers and others were injured in the violence while several vehicles and a police post were burnt. the police have arrested about 200 PTI members for “arson, sabotage and attacks on police.”

United Nations Special Envoy on Human Rights and Counter-Terrorism have criticized The legal definition of terrorism which includes property crimes, saying that they should be limited to “committed against members of the general population, or parts thereof, with intent to cause death or grievous bodily injury, or the taking of hostages”.

Violent clashes between the police and Imran Khan’s supporters have been going on for the last two weeks Lahore and Islamabad, Police used teargas and rubber bullets against the protesters and baton-charged them. Protesters have used sticks and stones to attack police and set fire to police vehicles. Dozens of police officers and supporters of Khan’s party were injured.

United Nations Basic Principles on the Use of Force and Firearms by Law Enforcement Officers, which sets out international law on the use of force in law enforcement situations, provides that security forces shall use non-violent means as far as possible before resorting to the use of force. Whenever the lawful use of force is unavoidable, officers must exercise restraint and act proportionate to the seriousness of the offense. Deadly force may be used only when strictly necessary to protect life.

Under the basic principles, in cases of death or serious injury, the appropriate agencies are required to conduct a review and immediately send a detailed report to the competent administrative or prosecuting authorities.

Governments should ensure that arbitrary or abusive use of force and firearms by law enforcement officers is punished as a criminal offence. Superior officers are to be held responsible if they knew or should have known that personnel under their command resorted to the unlawful use of force and firearms, but did their part to prevent, suppress, or report such use. Didn’t do all the measures in power. Protesters have a responsibility to remain peaceful and obey the law.

“All sides must show restraint and respect for human rights and the rule of law,” Gausman said. “It is vitally important for police to respect the right to peaceful assembly while holding those responsible for unlawful violence to account.”

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