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HRCP seeks SC review on 'missing persons’ case

June 06, 2013
Photo from February 2012 shows a ‘missing person’ being ushered away by authorities in Islamabad after  being presented in the Supreme Court.—File Photo
Photo from February 2012 shows a ‘missing person’ being ushered away by authorities in Islamabad after being presented in the Supreme Court.—File Photo

LAHORE: The Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP) has moved the Supreme Court of Pakistan to review an order disposing of a petition filed in 2007 for recovery of a large number of victims of enforced disappearances.

On May 18, the Supreme Court had disposed of through a short order HRCP’s constitutional petition regarding enforced disappearance of citizens filed in 2007 and observed that the petitioner could pursue the matter before a commission established to deal with the issue of missing persons.

Rights groups have estimated that thousands of people have been kidnapped and detained in secret prisons in the past decade, allegedly by security forces.

Dr Abdul Malik Baloch, the incoming chief minister of insurgency-hit Balochistan, one of the provinces worst affected by enforced disappearances, has also termed the recovery of missing Baloch political workers imperative for restoration of peace in Balochistan.

In its press statement issued Thursday, the HRCP said the apex court’s order did not address the grievances cited in the petition.

“HRCP has contended that the jurisdiction of the honourable court under Article 184 (3) could not be replaced by a Commission, whose majority comprises non-judicial authorities, especially since the matter raised was of public importance and clearly involved violation of fundamental rights, the enforcement of which fell squarely within the jurisdiction of the honourable Supreme Court,” said the press release.

“47 people on its (HRCP’s) list submitted to the SC were still untraced and the families of those had not been given any access to the Commission set up by the Government of Pakistan,” it said.

The rights watchdog also noted that over the past six year previous victims produced in court had given statements regarding their illegal abduction and confinement and made allegations against the security forces.

The court had also not so far rendered a detailed judgement on an important matter of violation of fundamental rights pending before it for the last six years, nor on the several hearings it had held and several statements it had recorded during the proceedings of the case over the last six years, which clearly identified the perpetrators of enforced disappearances,” noted the HRCP.

The statement also points out that the petition also includes a plea for compensation of victims, but the matter has not been raised in the court’s judgment either.