New law hits cyber crimes, use of internet for terrorism


 A just promulgated law hits “crimes against computers including cyber crimes, internet offences and other crimes related to information technology”, if committed with the purpose of waging war against Pakistan or threatening its security. The news reported.

The law carries heavy punishment ranging from ten years’ imprisonment to death penalty.The offences, scheduled in the Defence of Pakistan Ordinance, comprise a vast number of crimes. The law strikes saboteurs, terrorists, kidnappers, extortionists, and offenders, who will target foreign visitors, social and health workers and tourists.

Importantly, the ordinance empowers the central government to also appoint an officer of the federal or provincial service as a special judicial magistrate (SJM).Its relevant section says the government may, in consultation with the concerned High Court chief justice, appoint any magistrate of the first class serving as a member of the subordinate judiciary under any High Court or any other officer of not less than basic pay scale 18 of the Pakistan Administrative Service or Provincial Management Service of any province as SJM.

Also, the ordinance provides for establishment of safe houses and high security prisons with courtrooms. It says the government will take appropriate measures to provide adequate security to the prosecution witnesses, investigating officers, prosecutors, SJM and judges of the special courts and for this purpose may establish, anywhere in Pakistan, safe houses and high security prisons with courtrooms.

The government will establish an independent prosecuting agency headed by a Prosecutor General (PG) to provide consultation and legal guidance to the investigating agency and to conduct the prosecution of scheduled offences. It may name any person as PG who is not less than 45 years of age and has been a high court advocate for a period of not less than ten years. It may provide security of tenure to a special court judge.

The acts, if committed with the purpose of waging war against Pakistan or threatening the security of Pakistan, will be the scheduled offences.

These are the acts that are calculated to influence or affect the conduct of government by intimidation or coercion, or to retaliate against government conduct; crimes against ethnic, religious and political groups or minorities including offences based on discrimination, hatred, creed and race; use of arson, fire-bombs, suicide bombs, biological weapons, chemical weapons, nuclear arms, plastic explosives and other materials capable of exploding or creating bombs employed to kill persons or destroy property; and use of arson and bombs on public places, government premises, sites of worship, historical places, business concerns or other places.

Also included in the scheduled offences are killing, kidnapping, extortion, assault or attack on members of the parliament, judiciary, executive, media, other important personalities, officers and employees of Pakistan including armed forces and law enforcement agencies, foreign officials, official guests, tourists, foreign visitors, internationally protected persons, and social or welfare workers including health personnel, aid workers, and volunteers; and destruction of or attack on communication and interaction lines, devices, grids, stations, or systems, energy facilities including dams, power generating and distributing systems including stations, lines and poles, aircrafts and airports, flight crew with any weapon or endangering human life by means of weapons on aircrafts.

The scheduled offences also comprise destruction of or attack on gas or oil pipelines and liquid or natural gas facilities and other means of their transport including tankers, national defence materials, premises, utilities, and installations including check posts, prisons and other fixtures; crimes against computers including cybercrimes, internet offenses and other offences related to information technology; wrecking, disrupting or attacking mass transport systems including trains, buses, cars and their stations and ports; violence or attack against maritime navigation, maritime fixed platforms, shipping and port installations and other maritime fixtures; violence against nuclear arms, sites or any other related installations; hostage taking, or attempting to take hostage any person; violence against nationals occurring outside of Pakistan; transcending or crossing national boundaries; and any abetment or conspiracy to commit any of these offences.



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