Interior secy told to take up missing persons/ Journalist issue with Prime Minister | Pakistan Press Foundation (PPF)

Pakistan Press Foundation

Interior secy told to take up missing persons/ Journalist issue with Prime Minister

Pakistan Press Foundation

The Islamabad High Court (IHC) has directed the interior secretary to take up the issue of 76 persons missing since March with Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif and the federal cabinet.

IHC Chief Justice Athar Minallah heard the case regarding missing persons – journalist Mudassar Naaru and others – and issued a written order.

The court, while giving the new government time to formulate a policy to prevent enforced disappearances, sought a report based on the recommendations of the Federal Task Force on missing persons on the next hearing – by May 17.

Hailing from Lahore, Naaru had been missing since August 20, 2018, when he went on a vacation to the northern areas. He was last spotted near the Kaghan River.

Initially, Naaru’s family and friends thought that he may have accidentally fallen into the river and drowned, but his body was never found. Others began speculating that Naaru may have killed himself — a claim rejected by the family, saying he had no signs of despair.

A few months following his disappearance, one of his friends said he had spotted the journalist at a “detention centre for missing persons”.

In December last, former premier Imran Khan met Naaru’s family and ordered a “complete report” on his whereabouts.

On Saturday, the court, in the written order, quoting the lawyers, said that it would be appropriate to give the federal government another chance to state its policy on enforced disappearances.

The IHC directed the interior secretary to seek directives from the government and submit a report after discussing the policy regarding enforced disappearances with the premier and members of the cabinet before the next hearing.

It expressed the hope that the cabinet would take a decision on the missing persons.

Counsel Inamur Rahim said that according to the report of the Commission of Inquiry on Enforced Disappearances, 76 people went missing only in the month of March.

He said the interior secretary should share this information with the prime minister and cabinet members.

The court observed that Naaru’s family had “authentic information” about his whereabouts, saing that the interior secretary should approach the journalist’s family and submit a report.

It asked the interior secretary to given an update about the meeting held between Naaru’s family and Imran in December.

The amicus curiae apprised the court that the Federal Task Force was established for missing persons in 2013, adding that its recommendations were forwarded to the interior ministry.

In October 2018, Naaru’s father, the petitioner, approached the Commission of Inquiry on Enforced Disappearances. The initiation of proceedings by the commission led to the registration of a criminal case followed by the formation of a Joint Investigation Team (JIT).

The petitioner had stated that he was not kept informed regarding the JIT’s proceedings nor was its report provided to him.

Source: Express Tribune

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