PAKISTAN: Countrywide protest demonstrations for the legislation against Torture
A Statement by the Asian Human Rights Commission on the Occasion of the International Day in Support of Victims of Torture, June 26, 2012
Torture in custody is a serious problem affecting the rule of law, used as the most common means to obtain confessional statements in Pakistan. It has become endemic and on many occasions the police have demonstrated torture in the open place to create fear in general public. Police torture is a colonial legacy, known as police remand, which is a brutal way of investigations. There are no independent investigation procedures in Pakistan to investigate cases of torture. Torture has adverse impact on individuals as well as society as a whole, resulting loss of rule of law and people’s trust in the law enforcement agencies.
These concerns were expressed by the Human Rights activists and speakers at number of peaceful demonstrations organized in various cities including, Islamabad, capital of Pakistan, Lahore, Mianwali, Chakwal, Chiniot Khushab, Sargodha and Faisalabad, Punjab province, Karachi and Hyderabad, Sindh province Jhal Magsi and Quetta, Balochistan province and HariPur and Peshawar, Khyber Pakhtoonkha province, in connect with International Day against Torture, under the banner of Anti-Torture Alliance (ATA) Pakistan on Tuesday 26 June. These demonstrations were organized in front of local press clubs and busy places. The demonstrators were carrying placards and banners inscribed with slogans against menace of torture. They were demanding legislation to ban torture by police and law enforcement agencies.
The HR activists were of the view that despite prohibition of torture in the Constitution, police and other law enforcement agencies are running detention and torture cells in almost every city in the country. Pakistan has ratified the UN Convention against Torture and other Cruel, Inhuman, Degrading Treatment or Punishment (CAT) in June 2010, however legislators are least interested in making the law against torture, they lamented.
Forced disappearances, illegal detention, torture, extra-judicial and in-custody killings is rampant in the country, particularly in Balochistan. Hundreds of journalists, writers, HR defenders, students and political activists have been killed extra judicially in the province. The security of the media persons is remained a big question. Over 1000 cases are reported of severe torture in police custody during the year 2011. Sexual violence is reported by up to 70 per cent of women in police custody, along with the violation of their basic human rights.
Anti Torture Alliance-Pakistan is concerned over the increase of incidences of torture in custody; extra judicial killings, forced disappearances, as well as other incidents of HR violations, which reflects complete breakdown of rule of law in the presence of an independent judiciary and parliament. ATA-Pakistan calls on Government of Pakistan to urgently pass legislation for criminalization of torture and to ensure it will be vigorously enforced. All law-enforcement agencies should be held accountable for picking up or torturing people on suspicion or in the name of national security.
The government must ratify the optional protocol and respect all obligations of UN Convention against Torture. The Government must take immediate steps to stop the large scale of abduction, lawlessness and disappearances and release of all those forcibly disappeared and every perpetrator be brought to justice.
The provincial governments must perform their constitutional responsibility and check the menace of torture in their provinces. The Punjab Govt. must improve the condition of human rights standards at police stations, lock ups, jails and appoint female SHOs while setting up 100 model police stations in different parts of the province.
Press release was issued by Ms. Bushra Khaliq, focal person of Anti Torture Alliance-Pakistan.