Pakistani rights body opposes draft law on detentions

Bill states that complete immunity will be given to security forces if they woul present evidence.

Written by PTI | Lahore | Published:December 20, 2013 5:05 pm

Pakistan’s top human rights watchdog on Fria expressed strong concern over a proposed law that aims to legitimise “prolonged detention of individuals” and give blanket impunity to security agencies.

The Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP) said in a statement: “The proposed law contains 12 recommendations,one of which classifies enforced disappearances as a criminal offence.

“The bill adds that despite it being a criminal offence,security forces and intelligence agencies require additional time to be able to thoroughly interrogate suspects. The draft law will allow detention of suspects for even longer than 90 days.”

The bill states that complete immunity will be given to security forces if they are able to present evidence against a person detained without charge.

Such steps,presented to the people under the guise of additional and requisite security measures,simply “exacerbate the problem of enforced disappearance,deny due process and rather than improving investigation methods incentivise detention without charge and torture in custody to extract confession and evidence”,HRCP contended.

The rights body said such a law will fail to curb enforced disappearances and undermine the struggle of families of missing persons and civil society,”who have long battled to put an end to disappearances and the associated impunity”.

The proposed law “seems to side not with the victim but with the perpetrator of this reprehensible violation of rights”.

HRCP further said: “The proposed law,if adopted,will simply legitimise disappearance.”

HRCP said perpetrators of acts of terrorism had not been brought to justice in Pakistan in recent years because of inadequacies in the judicial process,”poor and no investigation” and the way in which security agencies operate.

Victims of disappearance should not be expected to pay for a broken criminal justice system or lack of professional investigation,it added.

“HRCP is disappointed that rather than breaking with the past and saying no to disappearances,such a legislation was thought of. Curbing terrorism is of utmost importance but the rubric of national security must not be used to deny the basic rights of citizens,” the statement said.

The body asked lawmakers to reject the draft and prevent it from becoming law.

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