High time to end enforced disappearances: HRCP
PESHAWAR: Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP) Wednesday said that it is high time Pakistan took robust measures to end the illegal practice of enforced disappearance and brought to justice the perpetrators.
In a statement released to the media, HRCP said that the International Day of the Victims of Enforced Disappearances, August 30, holds particular relevance to Pakistan since the phenomenon euphemistically called the missing persons issue is well entrenched in the country.
“The day serves to remind us that despite a large number of ‘disappearances’ coming to light, not a single person has been held to account for perpetrating such heinous actions. It is a matter of equally grave concern that disappearances continue in Pakistan today, as is apparent from the information released by the officially constituted Commission of Inquiry on Enforced Disappearances (CIED).
“There is a wide range in estimates of the overall number of cases. But even taking the most conservative estimates, a significant number of disappearances remain unresolved in the country.
“The cases reported to the CIED also demonstrate that the incidence is truly nationwide, having spread to areas where it had not been reported from earlier, including Sindh, where political activists have largely been targeted. In Sindh, those campaigning against disappearance are now themselves becoming victims.
“In Punjab too, Zeenat Shahzadi, who raised her voice for disappearance victims became one herself. She remains missing two years after being picked up from near her house in Lahore in August 2015.
“HRCP regrets that the government of Pakistan has not implemented the recommendations made by the UN Working Group on Enforced or Involuntary Disappearances (WGEID) after its visit to Pakistan in 2012 and subsequently as well.
“In its second Universal Periodic Review, the Government of Pakistan had accepted a recommendation (122.20) to specifically criminalize enforced disappearances. However, no concrete steps have been taken so far to make disappearances a distinct and autonomous crime.
Criminal complaints in cases of disappearances, where registered by the police, continue to be filed under general criminal law provisions related to abductions, kidnapping or wrongful confinement. Other recommendations accepted by Pakistan, but not implemented, include strengthening of the CIED and bringing the perpetrators to justice.
“We call upon the government to implement, without any further delay, all the WGEID recommendations and the promises Pakistan made during the UPR process, particularly with respect to disappearances.
“HRCP calls upon the prime minister to take all necessary steps to Implement all of the WGEID recommendations and the relevant recommendations accepted by Pakistan in its UPR, and particularly urges him to:
Make enforced disappearance a distinct and autonomous crime under the criminal law.
Order all state agencies to cooperate in the recovery of all missing persons and desist from abducting citizens, keeping them in secret detention or killing them and dumping their dead bodies.
End the widespread impunity for enforced disappearance. The earliest possible start of proceedings against any state functionaries involved would contribute to giving the people some hope of getting justice.
Ratify the International Convention for the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearance.
Arrange payment of compensation for families of the missing persons that have been suffering for years.
Ensure the government desists from making laws that have the impact of legalizing forms of secret, unacknowledged, and incommunicado detention. “Enforced disappearances are an affront to the universally held principles of the rule of law, have no place in a civilized society, have brought a bad name to the country and must be discontinued at once.”