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UN team on missing persons arrives in Quetta

September 15, 2012

A grief-stricken mother of a missing student, reacts, as she joins others demanding to know the whereabouts of their missing family members near the Presidential palace in Islamabad, May 19, 2008. — Photo by AP/File

QUETTA: A six-member working group of the United Nations Working Group on Enforced or Involuntary Disappearances arrived in Quetta on Saturday, DawnNews reported.

The working group's members were holding meetings in Balochistan's provincial capital over the issue of ‘missing’ persons.

The team, during its Quetta visit, had already met with lawyers, representatives from the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan and other members of the civil society.

The group was also scheduled to meet with the relatives of the missing as well as with leaders of several political and nationalist parties.

Moreover, the group would also be briefed by officials from the provincial government on the missing persons’ issue.

The mandate of the UN team that had arrived in Pakistan on Sunday (Sept 9) was to collect data about the ‘missing’ persons.

During its 10-day mission undertaken at the invitation of the government, the team was to study the measures adopted by Pakistan to prevent and eradicate enforced disappearances and issues related to truth, justice and reparation for the victims.

The delegation, comprising Olivier de Frouville, the Chair-Rapporteur, and Osman El Hajjé, member, was being accompanied by members of the secretariat of the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights.

The delegation had been visiting various parts of the country and meeting officials, representatives of civil society organisations and UN agencies and relatives of disappeared people.

The working group was set up by the UN Commission on Human Rights in 1980 to assist families in determining the fate and whereabouts of disappeared relatives. It endeavours to establish a channel of communication between the families and the governments concerned, to ensure that individual cases are investigated, with the objective of clarifying the whereabouts of persons who, having disappeared, are placed outside the protection of law. A final report on the mission will be presented to the UN Human Rights Council next year.

Talal Bugti urges team to meet all stakeholders

Earlier on Friday, President of the Jamhoori Watan Party (JWP) Nawabzada Talal Akbar Bugti had urged members of the UN team to meet all the stakeholders for getting information about Balochistan’s missing persons.

Addressing a press conference in Quetta, he had asked members of the UN delegation to visit as many areas of the strife-torn province as possible.

Bugti had said that the UN team’s visit indicated that the decision makers must take steps to protect the integrity and sovereignty of the country.

“People are being killed and disappearing in the presence of agencies,” he had claimed, adding that, the country was moving towards civil war and international forces had their eyes on Pakistan.