PAKISTAN: AHRC condemns the rearrest and disappearance of Baloch leader

Mr. Salim Baloch, a political leader of the southern province of Balochistan was rearrested by secret service personnels after recording a statement in the Sindh High Court on 31 December 2006, in which he gave details about his nine months of captivity in different military camps and the severe physical and mental torture that, amongst other things, resulted in the loss of sight in one eye and severe damage to the other. He has been missing since his rearrest.

Mr. Baloch’s second arrest and disappearance, which occurred in the same manner as it did on March 10 when he was arrested by secret service personnel of the army, is of great concern to the human rights movement.  That military personnel are above the all norms and laws and treat ordinary citizens as people of an occupied land is quite evident.

As stated, Mr. Baloch was first arrested by plain clothed persons on March 10, 2006 and remained missing until December 14, 2006 when he was released with two other missing persons. After his release he was brave enough to brief media about his arrest by military personnel and the torture he suffered at different locations in military camps, he also informed the public through the media about several other persons held by the military torture cell who have been missing for several months. On December 19 when his case came for hearing in the Sindh High Court Mr. Baloch asked the court to record his statement about his disappearance and torture.  However, the court disposed off his case as he had reappeared. The court allowed him to record his statement on 29 December but Mr. Baloch informed the court that it was too long a delay and that it was likely that the secret service personnel would again arrest and kill him.  He told the court that the officers, at the time of release, warned him not to tell anyone about his detention in military torture cells.  However, the court did not pay any attention to this statement and did nothing to provide protection.  On 29 December 2006, he recorded his statement and narrated his ordeal in the military torture cells. He also disclosed his apprehension to the court that he would again be arrested by the military officials.  He specifically requested the court to provide him judicial protection, but the Sindh High Court took no notice of his request. Within 36 hours of his statement he was rearrested and since then his whereabouts are unknown. Please see our urgent appeals, UA-413-2006 and UP-001-2007.

The Asian Human Rights Commission condemns the cavalier manner in which the higher judiciary in Pakistan is dealing with the lives and security of the citizens, if the high court had listened to his two requests for protection and taken his concerns seriously then this incident could not have been happened. Mr. Baloch’s second arrest and disappearance is the sole responsibility of the Sindh High Court who blatantly failed to protect his life and those of his family.

In his statement Mr. Baloch has provided the names of the army personnel concerned in his arrest and torture and the places of torture.  There is no plausible reason for the court not to raid those places and issue the warrants of arrest for the officers named by Mr. Baloch.  However, no such action has taken place.

The Sindh High Court as well as the Supreme Court of Pakistan should take Sou Motu action on the rearrest and disappearance of Mr. Baloch and obtain his release from the army.  Illegal arrest and torture can in no way be condoned and it is quite evident that by their inaction the Sindh High Court has allowed this to happen; this court must bear full responsibility for any misfortune befalling Mr. Baloch.

The AHRC demands that the parliament of Pakistan take serious notice of the disappearances and torture in military camps and the army’s sole power to govern the country.  It is high time to order an Inquiry Commission to probe the incidents of torture and illegal arrests and this Commission should consist of members of parliament and the Bar Association.

Document Type : Statement
Document ID : AS-003-2007
Countries : Pakistan,