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PAKISTAN: Killing of a 14 year old boy by the police in Lahore

July 18, 2006

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ASIAN HUMAN RIGHTS COMMISSION – URGENT APPEALS PROGRAMME

18 July 2006
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UA-237-2006: PAKISTAN: Killing of a 14 year old boy by the police in Lahore

PAKISTAN: Extrajudicial killing; Delay of justice; fabrication of charges against the victim; ineffective investigation; impunity; un-rule of law
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Dear friends,

The Asian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) has received information about a killing of a 14-year-old boy named Salman and the serious injuries of a 15-year-old boy named Asqhar by the Muslim Town police and the Sepoy [ordinary policemen ] of elite force stationing near the police picket at Wahdat road, Lahore City, Punjab, Pakistan on 8 July 2006. The police fired randomly at the boys and later allegedly concocted a story about the police encounter.  They claim that the boys were armed and shot at the police.  The officers then claim that they responded by firing back at the boys. However, according to eye-witnesses, the boys were not armed. Meanwhile, an inquiry has begun looking into the incident and a murder case was registered against the Sepoy of elite force.  However, no charges have been filed against the Station House Officer (SHO) of the Muslim Town police station, who ordered the shooting, or any other Muslim Town police officers responsible for the incident.  Salman is the latest victim of extrajudicial killings in Lahore. According to a local report, during the first half of 2006, more than thirty persons alone in Lahore have been allegedly killed by the police.

On 8 July 2006, Mr. Salman who is the son of a tailor master in Muslim Town, Lahore, Punjab, his cousin Fraz and his friend Asghar were returning home from their workplace by motorcycle when they were signaled to stop by the policemen of the Muslim Town police station and the elite force at a police picket at Wahdat road, Lahore, Punjab, Pakistan. The boys tried to stop the motorcycle some distance earlier; however, the SHO of the Muslim Town Station ordered his fellow policemen to shoot at the boys when he saw that they did not follow his orders. The policemen then fired their AK-47 rifles and hit Salman and his friend Asghar in the back. Both Salman and Asghar fell on the road and the policemen surrounded them. However, they did not attempt to send them to the hospital despite their serious injures.

At this moment, a Superintendent of Police (SP) of Angerwal was passing through Wahdat road in his vehicle and saw the policemen, including the SHO of Muslim Town police station, encircling three boys who were lying on the road. When he inquired about the boys, the police told him that they were dacoits and had been encountered by the police. The SP took the boys in his vehicle to a hospital where Salman was pronounced dead. Asghar was also admitted in hospital with injuries.  Fortunately, Fraz who was driving the motorcycle was not injured.

Meanwhile, the Muslim Town police allegedly concocted a story of a police encounter and implicated the three boys in a first investigation report (FIR) registered under sections 324, 353, 148 and 149 on the complaint of a sub inspector. Interestingly, the Muslim Town police mentioned in its FIR that when the two policemen named Mohamad Sarwar and Aasique ordered the three young motorcycle riders to stop, they were fired upon by the boys. The FIR further mentioned that the three boys rode away from the scene, but did not mention that two of them were injured by the police shooting. However, the SP, who took the boys to the hospital, reportedly contested the police claim and said that the boys were not armed and were not dacoits. High ranking police officials have asked the SP to clarify his statement. Meanwhile, it is alleged that the said SP was asked by the Senior Superintendent of Police (SSP), his superior officer, that why he did not support the police version but disclosed the truth. 

A police officer commented in a daily local newspaper TheNews that since they cannot tell who are criminals by looking at them, the three boys' fleeing indicted as criminals. However, according to Fraz and an eyewitness, the boys were not signaled by the police to stop and only heard a loud voice calling them from behind. He further said that when they turned their head to see who was calling them to slow down, bullets suddenly hit Salman and Asghar, causing them to fall to the ground.

The police registered a murder case against the Sepoy of elite force after continuous protests by the local people. However, no case has yet been registered against the SHO of the Muslim Town police station (SHO), who ordered to shoot the boys, or any other Muslim Town police officers responsible for the incident. The deceased Salman worked as an assistant tailor at his father's shop.

ADDITIONAL COMMENT 
 
In Pakistan, crimes committed by the police or army personnel have reached an alarming rate.  During the first half of 2006, it is reported that more than thirty persons alone in Lahore, the capital city of Punjab province, have been killed by the police. Most of them were killed in the name of 'police encounters' or while in police custody. In many cases in Pakistan, the police or army allegedly manufacture extrajudicial killings as deaths during 'encounters'.

According to a July 7 report published in local newspaper The Nation Lahore, this year has seen at least thirty persons, including two women, killed at the hands of the police. The killings continue even after the Punjab provincial government introduced police reforms. 

Details of some of these cases are as follows.

1. On 28 May 2006, the two officials of Faisal Town police of Lahore gunned down a 17-year-old student identified as Zeeshan of nearby city Okara, when he was on his way back home from a library with his friend on a motorcycle.  Police first claimed that they fired at him because he did not stop the motorcycle despite the police's order but later insisted that he was killed during the 'encounter'. 

2. In the same jurisdiction, the police fired at unarmed people who resisted the arrest of a local person that resulted in the death of 65-year-old Anwer Said and the injuries of a woman. The police later fabricated that Anwer Said was a notorious man and was killed during an 'encounter'. When the local community and civic organizations challenged the claim, the police allegedly tried to forcibly take away the victim's body from the hospital but failed as the hospital staff and people resisted. None of the police officers responsible have yet been arrested. 

3. In Ichhra, the police shot and killed at a woman suspected to be a thief, and injured her five companions.

4. The Kot Lakhpat police arrested a 40-year-old man named Asif on the charge of gambling. He later died in police custody.

5. Accused Hamid, alias Kala, died in police custody in a Badami Bagh Investigation Cell.

6. The Badami Bagh police kept a young man named Hamid in their custody for three days and then allegedly killed him.

7. In the Faisal Town area, a man named Zeeshan was killed by the police who shot at him for not stopping at Naka.

8. In Liaquatabad, a constable of the Elite Force in the presence of a DIG shot and killed a suspected murderer who allegedly killed his three children.

SUGGESTED ACTION: 
Please write to the relevant authorities listed below and express your concern about this serious case. 

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Sample letter:

Dear __________,

PAKISTAN: Killing of a 14 years old boy and serious injuries of another 15-year-old boy by the Muslim Town police and elite forces in Lahore

Name of the victim:
1. Mr. Salman, aged 14, a son of a tailor master (killed), resided in Muslim Town, Lahore, Punjab, Pakistan
2. Mr. Asghar, aged 15, Mr. Salman's friend (severely injured)
Alleged perpetrators:
1. Station House Officer of the Muslim Town police station
2. Mohamad Sarwar, a policeman attached to the Muslim Town police sation
3. Aasique, a policeman attached to the Muslim Town police station
2. Some other officers attached to the Muslim Town police station and Elite Force
Witness of the incident:
1.  Mr. Fraz, aged 15, Mr. Salman's cousin
2.  The Superintendent of Police (SP) of Angerwal 
Place of the incident: near the police picket at Wahdat road, Lahore City, Punjab province, Pakistan
Date of the incident: 8 July 2006
Case status: The Muslim Town police allegedly filed false charges against the victims to cover up their crimes after the incident. A murder case was registered against the Sepoy of elite force but no charges have been filed against the SHO or other officers of the Muslim Town police station 

I am deeply concerned by an alleged extrajudicial killing of a 14-year-old boy named Salman and the severe injuries inflicted upon a 15-year-old boy named Aasique who are mentioned above.  This was allegedly carried out by the Muslim Town police and elite forces near the police picket at Wahdat road, Lahore City, Punjab province, Pakistan on 8 July 2006.

It is alleged that the police fired at the boys because they delayed to stop their motorcycle after the police's order. However, Fraz, Salman's cousin who was present with the two victims during the incident, reportedly told the investigating officer that they were not signaled by the police to stop but only heard a loud voice calling them from behind. According to Fraz, when they slowed their motorcycle down so that they could turn and see who was calling them, bullets were fired and shot Salman and Asghar in the back.

I was also informed that the Muslim Town police later allegedly filed false FIR against the three boys under sections 324, 353, 148 and 149 on the complaint of a sub inspector. The police claim that the boys were armed and shot at the police, causing them to respond by firing back at the motorcycle.  Interestingly, the police also did not mention at all in the FIR that two of the boys were injured by the police shooting but simply stated that the three boys rode away from the scene. However, according to Fraz and a Superintendent of Police (SP) of Angerwal, who accidentally was passing by the scene claim that the boys were not armed and that there was no 'encounter'. The SP also took the boys to a hospital. Meanwhile, an inquiry began into the incident and a murder case was registered against the Sepoy of elite force but no charges have been filed against the Station House Officer (SHO) of the Muslim Town police station, who ordered the shooting, or any other Muslim Town police officers responsible for the incident.  

I am very disturbed by the escalating number of alleged extrajudicial killings in Pakistan. According to a report published on July 7 in local newspaper The Nation Lahore, the first half of 2006 saw more than thirty people killed by police in Lahore. I am sorry to notice that the killings continue even after the Punjab provincial government introduced police reforms. Most of them allegedly were killed in the name of 'encounters' or while in police custody. I am aware that in many cases in Pakistan, the police or army personnel allegedly manufacture extrajudicial killings as deaths caused during 'encounters'.

I therefore strongly urge you to order an impartial and thorough investigation into the case by an independent agency (not by the local police). The statements should be taken from the two eye-witnesses mentioned above to reveal the actual circumstances of the incident and an effective witness protection should also be provided to them while the investigation is on-going. Those responsible for the killing of a boy, including the SHO of the Muslim Town police station, should be prosecuted and punished under the criminal laws of the country. I also urge you to take proper action to withdraw the alleged false charges against the three boys as soon as possible. Those responsible for the fabrication of the charges should be investigated as well. I also urge you to ensure that adequate medical treatment is provided to Asghar. The victims should also be adequately compensated. Lastly, I again urge the Government of Pakistan to ratify the UN Convention Against Torture (CAT) and implement it in the country without further delay in order to stop such crimes committed by the law enforcement officers. 

Yours truly,


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PLEASE SEND YOUR LETTERS TO:

1. Lt. General Khalid Maqbool
Governor of Punjab
Governor House
Mall Road, Lahore
PAKISTAN
Fax: +92 42 9200023
E-mail: governor.sectt@punjab.gov.pk

2. Chief Secretary of Government of Punjab
Punjab Secretariat
Lahore
PAKISTAN
Fax: +92 42 7324489
E mail chiefsecy@punjab.gov.pk

3. Mr. Khusro Pervez Khan
Home secretary
Punjab Secretariat
Lahore
PAKISTAN
E mail: home@punjab.gov.pk 

4. Choudhry Pervez Ihhahi
Chief Minister Punjab
Chief Minister House
Lahore
PAKISTAN

5. Secretary of Law and Parliamentary Government of Punjab
Punjab Secretariat
Ravi Road
Lahore
PAKISTAN
Email: law@punjab.gov.pk

6. General Pervez Musharraf
President
President's Secretariat
Islamabad
PAKISTAN
Fax: +92 51 922 1422, 4768/ 920 1893 or 1835
Email: (please see - http://www.presidentofpakistan.gov.pk/WTPresidentMessage.aspx)

7. Mr. Muhammad Wasi Zafar
Minister of Law, Justice and Human Rights
S Block
Pakistan Secretariat
Islamabad
PAKISTAN
Fax: +92 51 920 2628
E-Mail: minister@molaw.gov.pk

8. Prof. Philip Alston
Special Rapporteur on Extra-judicial, Summary, or Arbitrary Executions
Attn: Lydie Ventre
Room 3-016
OHCHR-UNOG
1211 Geneva 10
SWITZERLAND
Tel: +41 22 917 9155
Fax: +41 22 917 9006 (ATTN: SPECIAL RAPPORTEUR EXECUTIONS)


Thank you.

Urgent Appeals Programme
Asian Human Rights Commission (ahrchk@ahrchk.org)

Document Type :
Urgent Appeal Case
Document ID :
UA-237-2006
Countries :
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Extended Introduction: Urgent Appeals, theory and practice

A need for dialogue

Many people across Asia are frustrated by the widespread lack of respect for human rights in their countries.  Some may be unhappy about the limitations on the freedom of expression or restrictions on privacy, while some are affected by police brutality and military killings.  Many others are frustrated with the absence of rights on labour issues, the environment, gender and the like. 

Yet the expression of this frustration tends to stay firmly in the private sphere.  People complain among friends and family and within their social circles, but often on a low profile basis. This kind of public discourse is not usually an effective measure of the situation in a country because it is so hard to monitor. 

Though the media may cover the issues in a broad manner they rarely broadcast the private fears and anxieties of the average person.  And along with censorship – a common blight in Asia – there is also often a conscious attempt in the media to reflect a positive or at least sober mood at home, where expressions of domestic malcontent are discouraged as unfashionably unpatriotic. Talking about issues like torture is rarely encouraged in the public realm.

There may also be unwritten, possibly unconscious social taboos that stop the public reflection of private grievances.  Where authoritarian control is tight, sophisticated strategies are put into play by equally sophisticated media practices to keep complaints out of the public space, sometimes very subtly.  In other places an inner consensus is influenced by the privileged section of a society, which can control social expression of those less fortunate.  Moral and ethical qualms can also be an obstacle.

In this way, causes for complaint go unaddressed, un-discussed and unresolved and oppression in its many forms, self perpetuates.  For any action to arise out of private frustration, people need ways to get these issues into the public sphere.

Changing society

In the past bridging this gap was a formidable task; it relied on channels of public expression that required money and were therefore controlled by investors.  Printing presses were expensive, which blocked the gate to expression to anyone without money.  Except in times of revolution the media in Asia has tended to serve the well-off and sideline or misrepresent the poor.

Still, thanks to the IT revolution it is now possible to communicate with large audiences at little cost.  In this situation there is a real avenue for taking issues from private to public, regardless of the class or caste of the individual.

Practical action

The AHRC Urgent Appeals system was created to give a voice to those affected by human rights violations, and by doing so, to create a network of support and open avenues for action.  If X’s freedom of expression is denied, if Y is tortured by someone in power or if Z finds his or her labour rights abused, the incident can be swiftly and effectively broadcast and dealt with. The resulting solidarity can lead to action, resolution and change. And as more people understand their rights and follow suit, as the human rights consciousness grows, change happens faster. The Internet has become one of the human rights community’s most powerful tools.   

At the core of the Urgent Appeals Program is the recording of human rights violations at a grass roots level with objectivity, sympathy and competence. Our information is firstly gathered on the ground, close to the victim of the violation, and is then broadcast by a team of advocates, who can apply decades of experience in the field and a working knowledge of the international human rights arena. The flow of information – due to domestic restrictions – often goes from the source and out to the international community via our program, which then builds a pressure for action that steadily makes its way back to the source through his or her own government.   However these cases in bulk create a narrative – and this is most important aspect of our program. As noted by Sri Lankan human rights lawyer and director of the Asian Human Rights Commission, Basil Fernando:

"The urgent appeal introduces narrative as the driving force for social change. This idea was well expressed in the film Amistad, regarding the issue of slavery. The old man in the film, former president and lawyer, states that to resolve this historical problem it is very essential to know the narrative of the people. It was on this basis that a court case is conducted later. The AHRC establishes the narrative of human rights violations through the urgent appeals. If the narrative is right, the organisation will be doing all right."

Patterns start to emerge as violations are documented across the continent, allowing us to take a more authoritative, systemic response, and to pinpoint the systems within each country that are breaking down. This way we are able to discover and explain why and how violations take place, and how they can most effectively be addressed. On this path, larger audiences have opened up to us and become involved: international NGOs and think tanks, national human rights commissions and United Nations bodies.  The program and its coordinators have become a well-used tool for the international media and for human rights education programs. All this helps pave the way for radical reforms to improve, protect and to promote human rights in the region.