Panel on enforced disappearances gets 318 complaints since August

Published December 2, 2018
According to the commission’s statistics, it disposed of 226 old cases during this time.  — APP/File
According to the commission’s statistics, it disposed of 226 old cases during this time. — APP/File

ISLAMABAD: The commission of inquiry on enforced disappearances has received 318 complaints from across the country over the past four months, it has been learnt.

According to the commission’s statistics, it disposed of 226 old cases during this time.

As per the data of cases from March 2011 [when the commission was established], the commission has received 5,369 complaints related to enforced disappearances out of which it has disposed of over 3,600 cases, while whereabouts of 2,000 persons could not be ascertained by the commission during the course of inquiry.

Since August 2018, the commission has received 318 complaints. Of these cases, 59 complaints were reported to it in August, 74 in September, 84 in October and 101 in November. In a sharp contrast, 35 persons were reported missing in November 2015 and 45 complaints of enforced disappearance were lodged in November 2016. The figures surged in November last year when the commission recieved 104 cases of missing persons.

Earlier this year, the commission received 80 complaints in January, 116 in February, 125 in March, 162 in April, 86 in May, 36 in June while 77 cases of enforced disappearance were reported in July.

An official of the commission said that they had disposed of 55 cases in November. He said number of complaints being disposed of varied every month owing to the nature of the cases.

The chairperson of the Defence of Human Rights, Amna Masood Janjua, expressed dissatisfaction over the performance of the commission, saying the forum had failed to recover the missing persons. According to her, after receipt of a complaint, the commission holds the inquiry and it disposes of the case when officials of intelligence agencies tell them that the person in question is in their custody. “The disposed of cases are actually dead or interned in tribal territory, with very few releases,” she claimed.

Recently, the superior judiciary took serious notice of the missing persons cases and imposed fine on the authorities concerned.

The chief justice of Islamabad High Court (IHC), Justice Athar Minallah, in a judgement in July observed that enforced disappearance is an act of terrorism.

The 47-page judgement passed in the case of a missing IT expert — who was picked up from his home in Sector F-10 — introduced strict penal consequences for officials involved in enforced disappearances. The court ordered the petitioner to be paid Rs117,500 a month, or such amount as may be determined pursuant to verification.

Last month, IHC’s Justice Mohsin Akhtar Kayani while disposing of a petition imposed a Rs2 million fine on the interior and defence secretaries and ordered the accountant general to deduct the salaries of the officials concerned till the recovery of a missing person.

Published in Dawn, December 2nd, 2018

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