Intl Day of Enforced Disappearances – Government refuses to criminalize the menace said Right Groups

Online, UK (3/9/2017): Each year on August 30, the world stands in solidarity with the victims of the enforced disappearances and their families and vows to fight against the menace of denial of one’s liberty and freedom of adopting life according to his/her free will. Sadly, in Pakistan, the enforced disappearances have given legal coverage through many laws on combating terrorism and other pretexts. The government of Pakistan is conspicuously avoiding criminalizing the enforced disappearances. Said Asian Human Rights Commission, World Sindhi Congress, Voice of Baloch Missing Persons and Rightsnow on the International Day of the Victims of Enforced Disappearances in a joint statement.

Joint statement further state that, the practice of enforced disappearances, which results in the custodial torture and extrajudicial killings, has become a norm in Pakistan and hardly elicits any response from any state functionary who is fearful of the powerful security establishment. The military and other law enforcement agencies indulge in the practice with complete impunity. The fact that the army is actually more powerful than the institutions of the state including the judiciary.

The Working Group on Enforced and Involuntary Disappearances (WGEID) in its 2012 reports on Pakistan observes that Pakistan’s counter-terrorism legislations allow arbitrary deprivation of liberty. The WGEID has observed that these laws are a catalyst for enforced disappearances. These laws include the Anti-Terrorism Act 1997, and the Federally Administered Tribal Area (FATA)/Provincially Administered Tribal Area (PATA) Action (in aid of civil powers) Regulations 2011 and the Protection of Pakistan Act, 2014

Until 2014, the Supreme Court was proactively hearing and proceeding with the cases. The said year Supreme Court and the Commission of Inquiry on Enforced Disappearances had demanded that there should be a law to regulate the operation of Pakistan’s intelligence agencies. However, successive governments have failed to do so, due to threats from the armed forces.  Said in joint statement

According to the joint statement, In Pakistan enforced disappearances is used as a strategic and tactical tool of oppression against dissenters, nationalists and any and all sundry daring to defer with state policy or brave enough to demand equal opportunity. Enforced disappearance under the aegis of intelligence and security agencies has been ongoing for decades while thousands have disappeared without a trace many are on the radar of the agencies to be picked up at a short notice these include nationalist leaders and party workers and now even bloggers and social media activists are also disappeared for voicing their concerns.

The statistics about the disappeared persons are not available however, the civil society groups working on the disappearances gathered the information from the family members of disappeared persons claim thousands of persons are missing after the war on terrorism started. The Voice of Baloch Missing Persons (VBMP) claims that in Balochistan province during the past 15 years more than 16000 persons are missing since the military government started operation, which still continues. A recent trend in disappearances is that involving minors. The AHRC has reported and documented two cases of enforced disappearances of minors in 2017. According to the list of missing persons, prepared by Voice of Baloch Missing Persons (VBMP), among those documented as missing 170 were children and women. In one instance, a schoolteacher, the mother of a one-year-old son, was picked up. Said in the joint statement.

From the Sindh province, the Voice of Missing Persons has collected data about the missing persons. Though, the list is based on the information collected from the family members of missing persons after their arrests by the intelligence agencies and men in uniforms. Please find here the link to list of missing persons from Sindh Province;

However, more persons are missing from Sindh as the family members are pressurized to keep shut their mouth otherwise their other male persons will be disappeared.

Politically motivated enforced disappearances also continue unabated as according to the reports made by Jeay Sindh Qoumi Muhaz (JSQM) and Jeay Sindh Muttahida Mahaz (JSMM), the Sindhi nationalist groups, at least 100 members of the party are missing since many months after their arrests by Rangers, intelligence agency Inter-Service Intelligence (ISI) and police. The government has failed to recover them and to date their whereabouts are unknown. Statement concluded.