Pakistan has made over a dozen changes in the Anti-Terrorism Act 1997 through a presidential ordinance to toughen the laws against criminals. The ordinance, which will be called the Anti-terrorism (Amendment) Ordinance 2013, shall come into effect immediately.
The amendments into the legislation proposed longer detention for suspects and accepting electronic evidence, such as text messages, telephone calls, emails, as well as conducting trials via video link, the Express Tribune reports. After the amendment, suspects could be held for up to three months for investigation.
President Mamnoon Hussain promulgated the ordinance by excercising powers conferred to him by clause (1) of article 89 of the Constitution, the report added. The ordinance has also introduced several other measures for the protection of judges, prosecutors and witnesses by amending section 21 of the Act XXVII of 1997, which includes screens might be used during trial to shield witnesses, judges and prosecutors from public view, trials may be held in jail premises or through video link, and witness protection programmes may be established by the government through law or rules.