AHRC report in support of torture victims -Pakistan Press Foundation (PPF)

Paksitan Press Foundtion

AHRC report in support of torture victims

HONGKONG: Today in Pakistan, here is no express prohibition in the penal law that criminalizes torture.

It is this very deficiency that provides impunity to the perpetrators who are mostly either policemen or members of the armed forces. Furthermore there is no provision for witness protection in general which discourages victims from making complaints which thereby encourages the perpetrators. While the international jurisprudence on the issue has evolved into very high standards, the situation in Pakistan resembles the stone-age.
Besides the prohibition of torture in the constitution, the Pakistan Army is running several detention and torture cell in almost every city of the country. The Asian
Human Rights Commission has identified 52 such detention centers which are run by the military and where people who were arrested and disappeared are kept incommunicado and tortured for several months to extract the confessional statements or their involvement in subversive activities.

The victims, when they were released, which is usually by being thrown on the road sides have testified before courts and the media of their ordeals and even identified other disappeared persons, but the government has taken no action to investigate the torture cells.


A prominent and popular Urdu .language television channel, Geo TV, has shown several times footage of torture in custody of a famous dacoit in its weekly program action against the perpetrators who compelled the accused to confess by severe torture. Geo TV in its serial program of “FIR” showed a series with the name of “Lyari Gang War” in which it had telecasted a recorded footage of torture in police custody. The gangster, with the name of Rehman Dacate, was brought before the police who tortured him severely by hanging him upside down and beat him with wooden and iron bars. The gangster was shouting and crying out in pain and in the end he confessed to whatever the police officers were suggesting to him. This involved multiple mur­ders, bombings and extortion. The worst aspect of this incident is that the government has not taken any action against the perpetrators for their crime of torture in custody.

This is a routine method of the authorities in Pakistan who even after signing the CAT still think that torture is the best way to extract the confessional statements.


The case of a French lady might be the best example in which the Government could not prevent it even after the intervention of French Consulate of Karachi. The police simply refused to listen. A French 5cholar was detained illegal and tortured in the police lock up of Thatta district, Sindh, on September 2007, before several persons. The French Consulate intervened in the matter and con­tacted police officials, but no remedy was provided by the authorities. Even now, knowing about the torture and illegal detention the provincial government has not


The law enforcement authorities have impunity for their methods of torture in custody and even lawyers were not spared from the torture by the police in detention. A prominent human rights lawyer, Mr. Syed Hassan Tariq was brutally tortured by the police upon instructions, allegedly by the provincial chief minister in Nawabshah, Sindh Province after he was arrested on 8 November 2007.

Mr Tariq is one of the thousands of lawyers arrested and detained following the imposition of the state of emergency. He suffered internal bleeding to his lungs and his two ribs were 6actured. He also had huge torture marks on his back. Several lawyers including the office bearers of different bar associations were tortured physically and psychologically during their detention. Munir Malik, former President of the Supreme Court bar association, was also arrested on November 3. He was kept first in Adiala jail Rawalpindi and then two days later shifted to Attock jail in the NWFP. He fainted while inside the jail after he had been provided with some unknown medicine which proved to be poison as both eyes ceased to function. lmdad Awan, president of the Sukkur high court bar association, was also arrested on Novem­ber 4 after having a protest meeting with the lawyers. He was tor­tured and was not allowed to have medicines for his diabetes and high blood pressure. He was also de­prived of sleep. Two female law­yers, Ms. Noor Naz Agha and Ms. Jameela Manzoor, were also arrested on November 3 and 5 respectively. Ms. Agha was a leading lawyer in Karachi. She was tortured by the police and later shifted to the Karachi prison. She was kept incommunicado and deprived of sleep. Meanwhile, Ms Manzoor was arrested after a protest meet­ing in Lahore. She was charged with high treason.


Another case of torture where eight persons were forced to strip naked and act like dogs and bears before the police officers in the lock up. The police tied the detainees with ropes and chains around their necks and they were asked under severe torture to bark like dogs and bite each other like wild bears; if they refused, they would be beaten more.

Neither the previous government nor the new government has taken any action against the ac­cused police officers as they have protection from strong political leaders.


Mohammad Khan Lund, a human rights activist is presently in Deeplo Jail after being implicated in 57 cases allegedly by his political rival Dr Arbab Rahim, the former chief minister of Sindh. He was arrested 42 times during nine years of Musharraf rule and was subjected to torture almost all time. No government even his par­ty’s government has initiated any investigation into the torture and illegal detention of his.

The legal system in Pakistan does not allow any room for mak­ing complaints about such gross abuses of human rights and the victims such as Mr Lund do not have any legal avenue to pursue might languish in jail for as long as the police and these powerful per­sons want them there. There is also no avenue to complain to higher police authorities about the con­duct of these police stations. Such abuse of power is quite common at police stations, particularly in the remote areas. The torture in cus­tody has become a common phenomenon in the detention and there is no legal remedy for that.

The Asian Human Rights Commission no doubt welcomes the ratification of International Covenant of Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (ICESCR) and signing the Convention against Torture and other cruel, Inhuman or degrading treatment of punishment (CAT) including International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) by the new government of Pakistan. But it is not enough just to sign the CAT. It needs to make such a mechanism which can prevent and stop the menace of torture in custody. The government of Pakistan has to adopt and improve the forensic system and investigation system. According to the modem methods the torture not only affects the life of the victim but to the all of the members of the family who have to shift places of residences in scare of being further tortured or his / her family members’ may have the same fate.


The Government should make the CAT, ICCPR and ICESCR part of the criminal procedure. The Government should make reforms in the prosecution and investiga­tive systems. Torture in the cus­tody should be made a crime. The witness protection system should be developed in order to provide protection to the witnesses.
Source: The Nation