Call for setting up new commission on enforced disappearances

Updated November 14, 2017

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Senate Functional Committee on Human Rights chairperson Senator Nasreen Jalil presiding over the committee meeting on Monday.—APP
Senate Functional Committee on Human Rights chairperson Senator Nasreen Jalil presiding over the committee meeting on Monday.—APP

QUETTA: Senator Farhat­ullah Babar of the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) has called for setting up a new commission on enforced disappearances because the existing one has failed to fix responsibility, register FIRs against the suspects and publish its report as required by the law despite the passage of six years.

He said this in a statement issued here on Monday after a meeting of the Functional Committee of the Senate on Human Rights. Senator Nasreen Jalil presided over the meeting.

Senators Sitara Ayaz, Dr Jahanzeb Jamaldini, Mir Kabir Mohammad Shahi, Mufti Abdul Sattar and Farhatullah Babar attended the meeting. Balochistan Home Secretary Dr Akbar Harifal, Inspector General of Police Moazzam Jah Ansari and Additional IG Chaudhary Manzoor Ahmed were present at the meeting.

The committee took stock of the situation of missing persons in Balochistan and persecution and target killing of Hazaras, besides other issues.

Senator Babar said the new commission should be formed with experts in investigation as members and the reports be made public. He also called for making public the report of the first 2010 commission under late Justice Mansoor Kamal, which worked for only one year.

Senate panel asks Centre to provide bombproof vehicles and latest equipment to LEAs in Balochistan

He said that those who had returned to their homes should be encouraged to depose before the Senate Committee on Human Rights with assurances of protection and confidentiality. Secondly, he said, complete information about the inmates in 45 internment centres under Action in Aid of Civil Power should be placed before the Senate committee so as to proceed further in the matter.

The PPP senator said retired Gen Pervez Musharraf had claimed in his biography that his government had captured 689 militants and handed over 369 to the US without trial for bounties worth millions of dollars. Since Gen Musharraf was not held accountable for this act, some elements might think that they could also get away with impunity with disappearing people, he said.

He said parliament should be informed about the details of those handed over by Gen Musharraf to foreign countries without trial and legal process.

Mr Babar said that for raising the comfort level of victims they should be assured of protection as well as confidentiality of their statements made before the committee. Members of the committee should state on oath that they would not disclose statements made by the recovered people before them, he added.

He said the Action in Aid of Civil Power was promulgated in 2011 but was given retrospective effect from 2008 to enable security agencies to bring those detained by them for years into the open for their trial.

“Now, the security agencies should reciprocate by not obstructing the recovered persons from deposing before the Senate committee in complete confidence,” Mr Babar said. If it appeared that the recovered persons were obstructed from appearing before the committee, it would only strengthen the lingering suspicion that “invisible elements” were more powerful than parliament, courts and the Commission on Enforced Disappearances, he warned.

The committee reviewed the situation prevailing in Balochistan and observed that police and other law enforcement agencies were facing problems in their work and they needed latest equipment and bombproof vehicles.

The committee called upon the federal government to provide bombproof vehicles and other latest equipment to Balochistan police and other law enforcement agencies as it would boost their morale in fighting terrorism.

Members of the committee said the National Action Programme should be implemented in letter and spirit in Balochistan. They expressed the hope that police and other forces would continue their action to curb terrorism in the province. The committee paid tribute to the martyred personnel of police and other law enforcement agencies.

Home Secretary Dr Akbar Harifal and IG Moazzam Jah Ansari briefed the committee on the steps so far taken by the Balochistan government in connection with the missing persons and providing protection to the people of the Hazara community and pilgrims.

Mr Ansari said special arrangements were being made for training of Balochistan Elite Force in Sindh and Punjab.

Published in Dawn, November 14th, 2017