WASHINGTON: The United States on Tuesday placed Rao Anwar on a list of 18 major global abusers of human rights, accusing him of being involved in 190 fake police encounters that resulted in over 400 deaths.

The list, issued on International Human Rights Day, includes 18 individuals in Myanmar, Pakistan, Libya, Slovakia, Democratic Republic of the Congo, and South Sudan for their roles in serious incidents of human rights abuse.

A separate section titled “Serious Human Rights Abuse in Pakistan”, has only one name, that of Rao Anwar Khan.

The statement notes that during his tenure as the Senior Superintendent of Police, Malir, Khan was “reportedly responsible for staging numerous fake police encounters in which individuals were killed by police”.

He was “involved in over 190 police encounters that resulted in the deaths of over 400 people, including the murder of Naqeebullah Mehsood”.

The US Treasury notes that Rao “Anwar helped to lead a network of police and criminal thugs that were allegedly responsible for extortion, land-grabbing, narcotics, and murder” and he “is designated for being responsible for or complicit in, or having directly or indirectly engaged in, serious human rights abuse”.

Besides the 18 major offenders, the Treasury also designated six other entities “for being owned or controlled by one of the aforementioned individuals”.

“The United States will not tolerate torture, kidnapping, sexual violence, murder, or brutality against innocent civilians,” said Treasury Secretary Steven T. Mnuchin. “America is the world leader in combating human rights abuse and we will hold perpetrators and enablers accountable wherever they operate.”

“Treasury’s action focuses on those who have killed, or ordered the killing of innocents who stood up for human rights including journalists, opposition members and lawyers,” said Deputy Secretary Justin G. Muzinich.

The report’s section on Myanmar identifies elements of the country’s military who have committed serious human rights abuse against members of ethnic minority groups across the country, including those in the northern Rakhine, Kachin and Shan States, among others.

Min Aung Hlaing is designated for his role as the commander-in-chief of the Burmese military forces, an entity that has engaged in or whose members have engaged in serious human rights abuse under his command. His forces were responsible for the brutal security operation that began in August 2017 in Rakhine State and ultimately caused more than 500,000 people to flee to Bangladesh.

Soe Win is designated for his role as the deputy commander-in-chief of the Burmese military forces, an entity that has engaged in or whose members have engaged in serious human rights abuse during his tenure, including many instances of sexual violence, reported directly to Soe Win.

Mahmud al-Warfalli, a commander of the Al-Saiqa Brigade, in Libya, is designated for carrying out or ordering the killings of 43 unarmed detainees in eight separate incidents.

The law used for these designations — the Global Magnitsky Human Rights Accountability Act and the Dec 20, 2017 executive order — authorises actions against individuals and entities whose violations had reached such scope and gravity that they threaten the stability of international political and economic systems.

As a result of Tuesday’s action, all property and interests in property of these individuals, and of any entities that are owned, directly or indirectly, 50 per cent or more, by them, individually, or with other designated persons, that are in the United States or in the possession or control of US persons, are blocked and must be reported to the Treasury.

So far, there are no reports of Rao Anwar owning any asset in the United States. But such actions are almost always endorsed by the United Nations, binding all UN members to take similar actions against the designated individuals.

Once endorsed by the UN, the designation will also require Pakistan to confiscate Rao Anwar’s assets. The designation will also increase pressure on Pakistan to take action against the former police official.

Published in Dawn, December 11th, 2019