Fifty-one more cases of enforced disappearances in 2023 have brought Pakistan’s overall figure to 3,120, according to a report published on Saturday by non-governmental organisation (NGO) Defence of Human Rights (DHR).

DHR is an NGO working on the issue of enforced disappearances since 2004.

In its annual report on the issue, available with Dawn.com, DHR said: “The total number of cases stands at 3,120, with 51 cases registered in 2023 alone. Notably, 595 individuals have been released and reunited with their families, 246 people have been traced, and 88 cases have sadly resulted in extrajudicial killings.”

According to the report, 17 missing persons from Azad Jammu and Kashmir were released and the whereabouts of two others were traced while one was extrajudicially killed while 20 remained missing.

Out of the 82 missing persons from Balochistan, the whereabouts of 67 remained unknown, 12 were released, two were traced and one was extrajudicially killed.

In Islamabad, 47 people remained missing while 32 were released, seven were traced and three were extrajudicially killed.

Out of the 1,091 missing persons in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, 121 were released, 792 remained missing, 151 were traced and 27 were extrajudicially killed. In Punjab, 343 were released, 323 remained missing, 76 were traced and 46 were extrajudicially killed.

In Sindh, 134 people remained missing, 70 were released, eight were traced and 10 were extrajudicially killed.

It said psychological assistance was extended to 120 families of the enforced disappeared and eight new cases were filed in different high courts with one case successfully resolved, leading to the return of Abdul Hameed Zehri who was whisked away from his home in Karachi on April 10, 2021.

“While positive court orders were issued in several cases, regrettably, the recovery of the disappeared remained elusive,” the report added.

It further said 12 cases, including that of missing journalist Mudassir Naaru, were consolidated in the Islamabad High Court (IHC) and were currently being heard but “unfortunately, substantial relief has not been achieved.”

The report highlighted that DHR recently took up the cases of 69 missing Baloch students with the IHC and had prompted “strong remarks” from the court.

“The Ministry of Interior and the Minister of Human Rights reported that 22 students have been located, while 28 are still missing. The court, expressing dissatisfaction, warned of potential legal action against the interior minister and the prime minister if the cases are not promptly resolved,” the report said.

“Despite court orders for compensation to the families of the disappeared, no compensation has been provided, underscoring the state’s responsibility to support the aggrieved families,” the report added.

It further said the Commission of Inquiry on Enforced Disappearances reported almost 10,000 cases of enforced disappearances in the country.

DHR Chairperson Amina Masood Janjua appealed to the chief justice of Pakistan (CJP) to initiate hearings on enforced disappearances in the Supreme Court.

She emphasised that a petition filed by the organisation on October 9 provided details on detention centres, production orders and old cases of enforced disappearances.

The chairperson expressed hope that CJP Qazi Faez Isa would address the longstanding issue and dispense justice to the heirs of the victims of enforced disappearances.

The report also shed light on the treatment meted out to families of missing Baloch persons who marched to Islamabad to stage a protest for the recovery of their loved ones.

The march — which started in Turbat on December 6 after the alleged “extrajudicial killing” of a Baloch youth by Counter Terrorism Department officials — had reached the federal capital on December 20.

The Islamabad police had subsequently used brutal force to disperse and detain the demonstrators with over 200 taken into custody from different areas of the federal capital. The action was strongly condemned by human rights organisations, politicians, the IHC, President Dr Arif Alvi and caretaker Prime Minister Anwaarul Haq Kakar and analysts.

DHR said it vehemently condemned the violence and fully supported all demands of the Baloch protesters.

“Human rights violations pose a grave issue throughout Balochistan. Failure to address this concern may risk injuring the sentiments of Baloch citizens, potentially leading to harm.” the report concluded.

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