Torture and custodial deaths

October 10, 2019


THERE was a hue and cry in the media in recent days against the incidents of custodial deaths at the hands of the police. Custodial deaths owing to torture are a violation of article 14(2) of the Constitution of Pakistan.

The law enforcement agencies personnel especially police should know that violence begets violence and torture is not the solution to discouraging crimes. There is no justification for torture, especially when confession made in front of police officers is not admissible in the court of law. Therefore senior police officers need to identify the black sheep and make examples.

This may sound strange but most of the time the police in Pakistan are the victim rather that a villain. The executive has tamed the laws related to the police so that the ruler of the day can prevail rather than the rule of law. One glaring example in this regard is the non-implementation of the Police Order, 2002.

The said law was a result of years of hard work by senior police officers, lawyers and experts. Nevertheless, it was never implemented in its letter and spirit.

For instance, in the Police Order, 2002, there was a provision for a public safety commission and a police complaints authority to function at the district, provincial and federal levels to oversee the working of policemen and check the excesses committed by them.

These commissions were never set up. If these bodies were in existence there would have been fewer incidents of torture and custodial deaths at the hands of police.

Last but not least, policemen must be better trained in public dealing. For that matter, the model of the motorway police should be adopted.

Zafar Siddique Chaanga


Published in Dawn, October 10th, 2019