1,330 people sent to internment centres, SC told

Published May 3, 2018
ISLAMABAD: Defence of Human Rights chairperson Amna Masood Janjua and relatives of missing persons hold a demonstration outside the Parliament House for the safe and quick return of their loved ones.—Online
ISLAMABAD: Defence of Human Rights chairperson Amna Masood Janjua and relatives of missing persons hold a demonstration outside the Parliament House for the safe and quick return of their loved ones.—Online

ISLAMABAD: The government claimed on Wed­nesday before the Supreme Court to have sent 1,330 individuals to different internment centres in the country but sought more time to furnish details about the legal proceedings initiated against them.

Additional Attorney General (AAG) Sajid Ilyas Bhatti told a three-judge bench headed by Justice Ejaz Afzal Khan that 1,330 people had been interned while 253 other persons had been released.

The government’s request for additional time in the case was opposed by Advocate Inam-ur-Rahim, who pointed out that it was seeking more time for the third time.

He was of the opinion that the government was waiting for the retirement of Justice Khan.

The presiding judge, however, observed that even after his retirement the Supreme Court would continue to function as other members of the bench, namely Justice Maqbool Baqir and Justice Faisal Arab, would still be available.

Justice Khan also said the court was not asking for the release of those who had been interned but wanted to know for which offences they had been detained. The authorities could not be allowed to hold people for an indefinite period.

The bench was told that the Commission of Enquiry on Enforced Disappearances had disposed of 3,269 cases of missing persons till April 30, leaving behind a balance of 1,822 cases.

Justice Khan regretted that the heirs of those whose near and dear ones were missing for a long time were helpless and approached courts as well as the commission with the hope of getting assistance in finding their relatives.

The counsel said the security establishment was neither submitting a report to the apex court nor was it serious about complying with the judges’ orders.

He pointed out that former chief justice Nasir-ul-Mulk in his order of May 13, 2014 had sought the detention order issued in the case of Tasif Ali, who had been under custody since 2013, but the order was never complied with.

The counsel regretted that the establishment had not learnt any lesson from the dismemberment of Pakistan. The bench then called for Tasif Ali’s internment order.

In another case, said Advocate Rahim, one Arshad Bilal was taken into custody in Swat on April 16, 2011 at the age of 16. “With the intervention of the high court, we got an opportunity to view the trial proceedings. As per the record he was interrogated [for] three years, but on May 10, 2014 he was interned.

“Subsequently, after three years Bilal confessed to committing the crime, on May 27, 2017. His trial commenced and concluded on Dec 30, 2017, in which the military court awarded him death sentence... on 14 charges for attacking troops with a rocket launcher, without realising that a boy of 16 years can hardly use a rocket launcher,” the counsel said.

He stressed that the military court could not try Bilal because he was a boy at the time of his internment.

The court, however, asked the counsel to approach the Lahore High Court in this regard.

Published in Dawn, May 3rd, 2018

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