Amnesty urges Pakistan to end enforced disappearances
- Amnesty International urged Pakistani authorities to stop forcibly disappearing suspected militants for years without trial, calling the practice “abhorrent.”
- In a report entitled “Living Ghosts,"" the rights group describes the difficulties faced by the families of the disappeared in obtaining information about their detained relatives.
- Since the beginning of the US-led war on terror, hundreds of Pakistani rights defenders, activists, students and journalists have gone missing.
About the Report
- Living Ghosts documents how enforced disappearance – in which state agents deny holding an individual or refuse to provide information on their fate or whereabouts – impacts affected families’ mental and physical health, financial status, and security, as well as leading to stigma and social isolation.
- Amnesty International spoke to the family members of 10 people whose fate remains unknown after they were abducted by Pakistan’s security services.
- Enforced disappearance is a cruel practice that has caused indelible pain to hundreds of families in Pakistan over the past two decades.
- On top of the untold anguish of losing a loved one and having no idea of their whereabouts or safety, families endure other long-term effects including ill-health and financial problems.
- Pakistan to disclose the fate and whereabouts of all the disappeared to their families, and release those still being held. The group also urged officials linked to such enforced disappearances to be put on trial.
- There was no immediate comment from the government, which has repeatedly denied the allegations.
- It says most of the missing went to neighboring Afghanistan to join militant groups in recent years.
- Although Pakistani law prohibits detentions without court approval, officials have privately conceded that intelligence agencies were holding an unspecified number of suspects at detention facilities.
- Enforced disappearances are a crime under international law and, if committed as part of a systematic attack against a civilian population they constitute a crime against humanity.
- Disappearances are a tool of terror that strikes not just individuals and families, but entire societies.
Legal Status of Enforced disappearances in Pakistan
- Enforced disappearances violate fundamental rights to due process, a fair trial, the right to be free from torture, and the right to dignity, life and liberty.
- The privacy of the home is enshrined in international human rights law and the Constitution of Pakistan, which are applicable to all people.
- However, they are, yet to be expressly criminalized in Pakistan.
- Pakistan signed the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) on 17 April 2008 and ratified it on 23 June 2010.
- Pakistan is thereby bound by the ICCPR which prohibit torture, protect the right to liberty and security and protect from arbitrary arrest or detention, and prohibit arbitrary or unlawful interference with privacy, family or home.
- Pakistan signed the Convention against Torture and Other Cruel Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (CAT), subsequently ratifying it IN 2010.
- As a result, the State must prevent and protect all people from torture or other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment, without exception.
- As such, enforced disappearances and the documented torture and ill treatment of disappeared people are a direct contravention of Pakistan’s obligations under international law.
About Amnesty International
- Amnesty International is a world-embracing movement working for the protection of human rights.
- It is independent of all governments and is neutral in its relation to political groups, ideologies and religious dividing lines.
- It uncovers the facts about violations and breaches of human rights.
- The issues may concern individuals or conditions within a particular state, but the organization also pursues various themes, such as the death penalty.
- Political imprisonment, torture, the death penalty are the specific issues that Amnesty International has sought to grapple with since its existence.
- Amnesty International also opposes the death penalty because it is irrevocable, is capable of being inflicted upon the innocent, and does not act as a unique deterrent to crime.
- The Universal Declaration of Human Rights affirms the right to life and asserts that no one shall be subjected to cruel, inhuman or degrading punishment. "