United Nation Report
Having returned to Geneva after its visit to Pakistan, the two-member mission representing the United Nations Working Group on Enforced and Involuntary Disappearances (WGEID) has made some tough recommendations in a preliminary report. The full report is to be submitted to the UN Human Rights Council in 2013. The UN mission is alarmed at what it found during its ten-day visit to Pakistan earlier this month.
The group has recommended immediate suspension from service of all army and intelligence officers suspected of abducting citizens. It has also sought the trial of such persons in civilian courts and asked why nobody has so far been convicted for enforced disappearances; the issue of impunity for specific groups has been raised as well.
The report cites Article 6 (1) of the UN’s Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which states: “No order or instruction of any public authority, civilian, military or other, may be invoked to justify an enforced disappearance. Any person receiving such an order or instruction shall have the right and duty not to obey it.” The members of the mission have also regretted that they were not permitted to meet key officials including heads of agencies. Families of disappeared people and rights-monitoring groups have consistently blamed paramilitary forces and agencies for the abductions.
The matters raised by the mission should make us think. A recommendation has been made for human rights training within the armed forces. Whether this will be taken up is doubtful, given the structure of our institutions. But certainly, the helplessness of families whose loved ones have been abducted needs to be addressed. The degree of concern expressed by the UN suggests we must do more. Despite efforts from various quarters, little has been achieved on the ground. This is disturbing and represents a situation that must not be ignored for long.