The government must prosecute the Frontier Corp for running torture cells
Mr. Murad Khan Marri was missing for eight months before the Frontier Corp (FC) announced that he had been arrested in March 2010 while crossing the Afghan border into Pakistan. He was produced before the chief justice of the High Court of Balochistan province on May 25. Mr. Marri told the court that he had been kept in different places of detention and severely tortured since his actual arrest on June 27, 2009.
Mr. Murad Khan Marri, 45, was arrested by uniformed and plain clothed persons near the Aachar Hotel in Hub Chowki, Balochistan. He remained missing until March 27, 2010, when Colonel Asad Shehzad Khatak of the FC held a press conference in which he told the media that Murad Khan Marri was arrested from Chaman, Balochistan province, while crossing the Afghan border into Pakistan in the possession of explosives and Indian currency and was wanted in the murder of a group of Chinese engineers.
Please see the follow up of the developments regarding this case:
During the hearing on the May 25 of a constitutional petition filed on August 17, 2009 by his mother Mrs. Nazi, Mr. Marri told Mr. Faiz Essa, the chief justice of the High Court, that at the time his arrest was mentioned by the FC he had already been in their custody since his arrest on June 27, 2009. According to his lawyer the victim said before the court that during his eight month’s detention he was kept in different places and tortured severely. Most of the time during his detention he was kept blind folded so he was unable to say where he had been held. Due to the continuous torture he had fainted many times and on three occasions was brought to the CMH (at the time he did not realise that it was the Combined Military Hospital) for treatment. He is also unaware of the dates on which he was taken to the hospital. He was particularly treated about pain in his kidneys. On one occasion he was brought to the Cantt (Cantonment Police Station), Quetta, the capital of the province, where Mr. Deen Mohammad, the station house officer (SHO) refused to take charge of him because of his fragile condition.
Mr. Marri argued before the court that if he had been taken to the hospital and police station at Quetta by the FC during his custody before his supposed arrest in March then how is it possible that he was only arrested while crossing the Afghan border in March 2010 as claimed by the FC.
His statement about his illegal detention of eight months by the FC, his torture at their hands and the declaration by the FC of his fake arrest eight months after his disappearance placed the chief justice in an awkward position. The judge was dumbfounded by his revelations could not even ask him why he was tortured and kept incommunicado. Mr. Marri’s lawyer, Mr. Agha, made several requests of the chief justice to order the quashing of the FIR in which he was falsely charged with crossing the Afghan border for the motive of militant activities inside Pakistan, carrying explosive materials and Indian currency. But the chief justice was unable to respond. The lawyer also requested that he should be transferred from the Anti Terrorist Force (ATF) Jail to the district jail of Quetta city and that all cases pending before the Anti Terrorist Court (ATC) should be stopped. The Judge replied that he would prepare a report for the ATC but that it was up to the ATC to decide.
This was the first time after his ‘official’ arrest on March 27 that he was produced before the High Court and allowed to give his statement. He has never been allowed to meet his family members. Each time he was brought to the Anti Terrorist Court it was under heavy security and even his lawyer was not allowed to meet him. During the hearing at the ATC the brief on behalf of the lawyer was not signed directly by the lawyer but instead signed by the victim from the police lock-up at the ATC.
In the ATC court he was first produced on April 22, 2010, but for a while was in judicial remand at ATF jail. This time he requested a policeman to inform his lawyer that his next hearing would be on May 11. At that hearing his wife and son were there but the FC did not allow them to enter the court building. The victim was only produced when the timings of the court were over and his lawyer, Mr. Aman Ullah Kandhrani had already left. On May 13 he was again produced at the ATC and the judge ordered the prosecutor to produce witnesses for the government side on May 26. However, the same order had to be repeated at the May 26 hearing when it was announced that the next hearing would be on June 7.
It is to be mentioned here that the government made an announcement of the head money (bounty) for the arrest of Mr. Marri in January 2010. Within two months the FC announced his arrest and claimed the reward. But the government has refused to pay any money after receiving reports that it had been shown that Mr. Marri was falsely arrested on March 27.
It is outrageous that the FC has a free hand in the Balochistan province to arrest people and implicate them in cases of anti-state activities. The civilian government after coming into power announced in 2009 that it would stop the military action in the province. However, in contradiction of this announcement the government then handed over the responsibility for law and order in the province to the FC. Since then there have been hundreds of cases of illegal arrests and disappearances involving the FC and also attacks on people protesting peacefully about the increase in cases of disappearances.
From 2005 to-date the FC has taken Rs. 12 Billion from the government for maintaining law and order which, in fact, has deteriorated since the deployment of the FC.
It has also been observed that the higher courts are not taking the cases of disappearances seriously. It is claimed that around 5000 persons have disappeared after arrest by the security forces and there are more than 400 cases in the higher courts of Pakistan including the Supreme Court. However, the courts have not shown any determination to hold the state security agencies responsible for these disappearances despite of overwhelming testimony by family members implicating the state agencies.
The Asian Human Rights Commission urges the government of Pakistan to prosecute the FC and its high officials for running torture cells and keeping disappeared persons incommunicado for many months and also for carrying out false arrests to earn head money.
The AHRC also urges the Commission of Disappeared Persons, formed by the government of Pakistan to thoroughly investigate the case of Mr. Murad Khan Marri who was tortured during his disappearance by the FC and was falsely implicated in cases of being in possession of explosive materials, carrying Indian currency and the killing of the six Chinese engineers.