‘Torture to extract information a violation of human dignity’

Published November 2, 2013
Due to a lack of resources the police were unable to carry out scientific investigations into any case and heavily relied on torture for extracting information, the speakers said. -Photo by Reuters
Due to a lack of resources the police were unable to carry out scientific investigations into any case and heavily relied on torture for extracting information, the speakers said. -Photo by Reuters

ISLAMABAD: With the changing security situation in Pakistan, torture is being used as the main tool to extract information by police and other law enforcement agencies in complete disregard for the inviolable right to human dignity enshrined in the constitution.

This was stated by human rights activists, civil society representatives and mediapersons at a seminar “Prevention of torture in Pakistan, our international commitments and role of media” here on Friday.

The event was organised by Rozan in collaboration with Oxfam GB at a local hotel.

Those who spoke included Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP) co-chair Kamran Arif, women rights activist Nasreen Azhar, journalist Farzana Ali and Rozan’s senior coordinator Shabana Arif.

The speakers said there was a dire need to create awareness about the protections the constitution provided to the citizens against torture such as article 14 and Pakistan’s commitment to the international convention against torture in order to improve human rights standards in the country.

In case of violence and other crime, there is the criminal justice system under which the culprits can be punished.

But when a state functionary misuses his power and directly attacks the dignity of a person and humiliates him, such as a policeman in uniform slapping a citizen in the street, how can the affected person get justice?

When there is a torture case against the police, the latter itself have to carry out the investigation.

In such a situation, citizens never expect justice and seem helpless and at the mercy of the police.

The speakers said due to lack of resources the police were unable to carry out scientific investigations into any case and heavily relied on torture for extracting information.

In majority of the cases, it is only the poor people who after being arrested in even petty crimes face torture at the hands of the state functionaries and then go through the prolonged and arduous trial process.

The speakers said for decades successive governments had been using torture as a means of governance.

The police were also used by politicians in inflicting physical and psychological torture on their opponents.

During the martial law regimes, the use of torture became a norm in violation of all human rights.

The speakers asked the media to play its role in highlighting the issues of torture.

They also emphasised the role of a functional judiciary and police to ensure rule of law in the country.

TV journalist Farzana Ali from Peshawar said mediapersons were also facing torture in the hands of hidden forces, especially in conflict areas like Fata and some parts of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.

She narrated how as a woman she faced psychological torture and threats in reporting injustices in the conservative society.

Besides, commercialism in the media had also handicapped professional journalists in working independently, she added.

The participants demanded separation of the investigation and prosecution departments, launching of public awareness campaigns, collaboration between the media and civil society organisations and strengthening of the writ of the state to ensure rule of law to eliminate torture.

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