Rights activists demand end to custodial torture
HRCP stages rally outside KPC to observe the day, participants call for introduction of anti-torture laws
Karachi Observing the International Day in Support of Torture Victims, human rights activists staged a rally outside the Karachi Press Club on Monday demanding that the government should show its commitment to bringing an end to torture, adopt anti-torture legislation and provide effective remedies to the victims of the practice. The rally was organised by the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan. Many rights activists, carrying banners and placards inscribed with slogans “Stop Torture, Stop Violence” and “Let people speak” participated in it to express solidarity with all victims of torture, regardless of caste, creed, nationality or political and religious affiliations. The participants said cases of custodial torture were very common in Pakistan and there was no law in the country to stop it.
HRCP general secretary IA Rehman said Pakistan had ratified the United Nations Convention Against Torture (UNCAT) in 2010 and in that way committed itself to putting an end to torture. However, he regretted, torture remained on the gravest and most pressing human rights issues in the country.He said investigation through torture was commonly practiced by police in the country. “Law-enforcement agencies, especially police, use torture to extort confessional statements,” Rehman told The News.
Asad Iqbal Butt, HRCP vice-chairperson, said the day was reminder for the government that it should introduce anti-torture legislation. “It is also imperative for rights activists to stake solid steps to protect the victims of torture and end the menace by forging an alliance of human rights groups, individuals and the media,” Butt told The News. The participants of the rally called for introducing an effective and transparent mechanism for promptly and impartially probing every torture claim and the prosecution of those found guilty. They also demanded empowering the National Human Rights Commission to investigate all complaints of torture by withdrawing exemptions that limit the the body’s jurisdiction.
Habibuddin Junaidi, Manzoor Razi, Zehra Khan, Abdul Hai and Khizer Habib were prominent among the activists who attended the protest.The Torture, Custodial Death and Custodial Rape Bill defines torture and prescribes life imprisonment and a fine of Rs 3 million for custodial death or custodial rape and a minimum of five years in jail and a fine of up to Rs 1 million for torture. However, it still remains pending in the National Assembly. Visit to Sabri’s home An HRCP delegation led by Asad Iqbal Butt visited the home residence of slain Qawwal Amjad Sabri in Liaquatabad and offered their condolence to his family.“Sabri was a great man and his murder shows that the law-enforcement agencies have failed to protect the residents of Karachi,” said Butt.