LAHORE: On the International Day in Support of Victims of Torture, the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP) reiterates its demand that the state should criminalise torture, which is obligatory after the country’s ratification of the Convention Against Torture in 2010.

In press release on Saturday, the commission says that neither a state of war, nor political instability, nor an order from a superior authority, justifies torture which hurts the very foundation of the rule of law.

While the Senate had passed the Torture and Custodial Death (Prevention and Punishment) Bill in 2021, the HRCP regrets the fact that the bill has yet to be passed by the National Assembly.

It says that such a marked delay in turning this bill into an act of legislation only sets us back further, since the bill not only provides a comprehensive definition of torture, that is lacking in the Pakistan Penal Code, but also empowers the National Commission for Human Rights to investigate such cases.

HRCP urges that the petition against internment centres, pending since 2019, be heard by the Supreme Court on a priority basis, and that such legal systems that condones torture be dismantled and transformed.

It observes that the allegations of custodial killings and torture in detention centres, police lockups and prisons abound; yet unfortunately, most instances of torture remain invisible. Torture is not only under reported but also difficult to prove in medical reports as has been

noted in various credible studies carried out on the subject, resulting in complete impunity for torture, the commission believes.

HRCP says the torture diminishes the victims, the system that allows it and ultimately the state itself.

HRCP stands with the victims of torture and demands that the state provide reparations to them and hold the perpetrators strictly accountable to end this culture of torture and renew the trust between law enforcement agencies and citizens, the press release says.

Published in Dawn, June 26th, 2022

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