Checking police excesses
TWO recent incidents of police highhandedness indicate that the stipulated measures for reforming the law-enforcement agency have yet to see the light of day. On Wednesday, the father of the murdered man in Karachi’s high-profile NED couple case complained of being severely beaten by the police and warned by them to refrain from implicating two people in the affair.
More recently in Thatta, an elderly French scholar, who had reported to the police station after losing her precious research work, was mercilessly thrashed by the investigation officer who was presumably enraged by an MPA’s threat to take up the matter of police callousness in the assembly. In both cases, the victims had come to the police to seek help and justice. They received none, and, instead, were further victimised. Their case justifies the public perception of the police as persecutors rather than as a truly professional force charged with the task of helping the course of justice.
What has made matters worse is the non-functional state of the public safety commissions that are supposed to take up citizens’ complaints against errant law-enforcers. The commissions are seen as a fundamental part of the Police Order 2002 and are critical to ensuring accountability in police ranks. Their absence or poor functioning only proves that the authorities are not serious about carrying out the mandated reforms, especially with many politicians and influential people looking upon the force as an instrument with which to settle personal scores. Rather than submitting to police excesses and taking these for granted, the public, helped by the media, would do well to highlight cases of police atrocities. While, no doubt, this would incur the wrath of police officials, such action might expedite the proper constitution and functioning of safety commissions.