Call to bring secret agencies under legal network
Karachi: Torture in custody has assumed serious proportions, affecting the rule of law in Pakistan. Police and secret agencies use to torture the detainees to extract confessional statements of their choice and there is a dire need to bring intelligence agencies under the legal network.
These views were expressed by speakers at a seminar ‘Torture is a crime’ held at the Karachi Press Club (KPC) on Sunday. The event was jointly organised by the KPC, the Karachi Union of Journalists (KUJ), the Karachi Bar Association (KBA) and the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP) to mark the international day in support of torture victims.
Speaking as the chief guest on the occasion, Chief Justice of the Sindh High Court Justice Mushir Alam said that there was no need to issue sweeping statements while asking the participants to point out the negligence and weaknesses in the law and how to improve the same.
Welcoming suggestions from the participants, he said that the courts were already playing a pro-active role and keeping an eye on public issues.
Former president of Sindh the High Court Bar Association Rasheed A Razvi said that there was a misconception that police could not be held responsible for committing torture in custody, adding: “It is a punishable offence even if committed by the police.”
“Unfortunately, police use to subject the detainees to third degree torture and force them not to inform the courts about torture,” he said, adding: “It is necessary to change the mindset of the police that only torture would help them extract true facts and that the suspects would confess their crimes.”
Baseer Naveed, representative of Asian Human Rights Commission, said that only the supremacy of the judiciary would help address the issues confronting the country. “Police and secret agencies use to subject the detainees to torture and create fear among general public, as the torture culture despairs the ability to think among the victims,Â” he observed. He called for constituting proper complaint centres and investigation into the issue as well as educating the people in this regard.
Professor Dr Tauseef Ahmed Khan called for introducing changes in the Constitution and doing away with discrimination on the basis of religion.
“Torture is justified at every level, right from the family to the government level. Torture culture could not be rooted out without granting equal rights to all the citizens,” he added.
General Secretary KBA Hyder Imam Rizvi said that the fundamental rights of the citizens should not be usurped by the state agents. He urged the members of parliament to table a bill and enact law for ensuring justice so that the judiciary could play its role in this regard.
Former MNA Abdul Rauf Mengal said that there was no limit of torture in the country, particularly in Balochistan whose people were well aware of different kinds of torture. The secret agencies’ officials took it as their insult to appear in the courts and in case they appear they would never clarify their position and would not follow the court directions, he added
“These agencies have been facing a number of serious allegations but no action has ever been taken against them in the history of the country that has already witnessed separation of its eastern wing,” he added.
Mengal said that millions of people in Balochistan have been internally displaced from their native areas but the government has never addressed the matter.
Senator Hasil Bazenjo said that 225 bullet-riddled bodies had been recovered from different areas of Balochistan, of whom 85 per cent were students.
He said that secret agencies were far ahead than police in committing torture since they did not fear of law in case the detainees die in their custody.
He called upon the political parties and civil society to come forward and tell the military establishment that this country belongs to its people and not only to the armed forces anymore. “As long as the military continues to rule the country the torture culture would never come to an end,” he observed.
Chairperson HRCP Zohra Yousuf said that torture remains widespread in Pakistan, with police, security agencies and prison staff the most frequent offenders. “The HRCP urges the government to take serious steps, including introducing new legislation, in order to secure the implementation of the convention against torture.
President KPC Tahir Hasan Khan said that this (torture) has become a burning issue of the country, adding, all the bodies related to the journalism community have decided to launch campaign against torture, as journalists have been facing threats on regular basis.
KUJ President Siraj Ahmed and KBA President M Aqil also spoke on the occasion.
Source: The News