Time now to rid Pakistan of disappearances: HRCP

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LAHORE: It was a high time Pakistan took robust measures to end the illegal practice of enforced disappearance and brought to justice the perpetrators, the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP) stated on Wednesday.

In a statement released to the media, HRCP said: “International Day of the Victims of Enforced Disappearances, August 30, holds particular relevance to Pakistan since the phenomenon euphemistically called the missing persons issue is well entrenched in the country.

“The day serves to remind us that, despite a large number of ‘disappearances’ coming to light, not a single person has been held to account for perpetrating such heinous actions. It is a matter of equally grave concern that disappearances continue in Pakistan today, as is apparent from the information released by the officially constituted Commission of Inquiry on Enforced Disappearances (CIED).

“There is a wide range in estimates of the overall number of cases. But even taking the most conservative estimates, a significant number of disappearances remain unresolved in the country.

“The cases reported to the CIED also demonstrate that the incidence is truly nationwide, having spread to areas where it had not been reported from earlier, including Sindh, where political activists have largely been targeted. In Sindh, those campaigning against disappearance are now themselves becoming victims.

“In Punjab, too, Zeenat Shahzadi, who raised her voice for disappearance victims became one herself. She remains missing two years after being picked up from near her house in Lahore in August 2015.

“HRCP regrets that the government of Pakistan has not implemented the recommendations made by the UN Working Group on Enforced or Involuntary Disappearances (WGEID) after its visit to Pakistan in 2012 and subsequently as well.

“We call upon the government to implement, without any further delay, all the WGEID recommendations and the promises Pakistan made during the UPR process, particularly with respect to disappearances, it said.

“HRCP calls upon the prime minister to take all necessary steps to implement all of the WGEID recommendations and the relevant recommendations accepted by Pakistan in its UPR, and particularly urges him to make enforced disappearance a distinct and autonomous crime under the criminal law.

“It called for an order to all state agencies to cooperate in the recovery of all missing persons and desist from abducting citizens, keeping them in secret detention or killing them and dumping their dead bodies.”