PAKISTAN: Verification of disappearance cases is vital 

Lahore, April 02: The Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP) has highlighted the difficulties in verifying cases of enforced disappearance in Balochistan and urged all concerned to play their role in documenting these cases to ensure that those in unlawful detention are freed, the illegal practice is brought to an end, and no enforced disappearance case escapes attention.

In a statement issued on Monday, HRCP said: “It is a matter of concern that enforced disappearances still continue in Pakistan. HRCP has been trying to verify and document cases of enforced disappearance for years now and has no hesitation in admitting that verification of the actual number, particularly in Balochistan, has been quite difficult and sometimes impossible. The nationalists claim the figure is in thousands and the people must respect their views. The authorities have put the number from scores to several hundred, which obviously is an understatement.

However, the problem is that when it comes to documentation the task is not as easy as some people suppose. When HRCP filed the petition for missing persons in the Supreme Court in 2007 the number of verified cases did not exceed a little over 400. Then several cases had to be deleted because the requirements of documentation under the UN protocol and the court regime could not be fulfilled.

HRCP has no intent to deny the claims of families of missing persons and has never claimed that the figures compiled by it constitute an exhaustive list of cases of disappearance. It has consistently stated that the figures it cites are only those that it has been able to verify.

Sometimes figures received from various sources get mixed up and the possibility of error becomes greater. In December last, due to a typographical error HRCP had stated that it had verified 107 cases of enforced disappearance in Balochistan when the total number of cases the Commission had been able to verify in the province by that time was 167.

There is an apparent discrepancy in figures used in several documents. For instance, the number of cases before the Commission of Inquiry on Enforced Disappearances that is at work now was 471 from across Pakistan in March 2012. HRCP cannot vouch for those figures. We are trying our best to ascertain as many cases as of disappearance as we can and in this we seek the cooperation of the families, civil society organisations and indeed all concerned.

HRCP also calls upon the government to redouble efforts to ensure that all those in illegal detention of government agencies are released without delay and the illegal practice is stopped forthwith.

Zohra Yusuf, Chairperson.

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Document Type : Forwarded Statement
Document ID : AHRC-FST-020-2012
Countries : Pakistan,
Issues : Enforced disappearances and abductions,