Torture, killings in state custody unacceptable


The torture in state custody is on the rise in different shapes in Pakistan including extra-judicial killings and disappearances violating the local and internationally ratified laws, observed IA Rehman, secretary general Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP) while addressing a seminar “Fight against Torture in Custody”. Initiative for Peace and Freedom (IPF), a non-governmental organisation working on peace and freedom, in collaboration with Asian Human Rights Commission (AHRC), a Hong Kong based human rights group had arranged the seminar.
The seminar was addressed and participated by lawyers, human rights activists and journalists who consensually demanded of the government of Pakistan to make laws according to the Convention Against Torture (CAT) of United Nations and implement the laws in letter and spirit to decrease the dangerously increasing trends of violence by state and non-state actors. IA Rehman said that the judicial remand of accused persons in Pakistan has become a joke. Accused persons are tortured against the law for the forced confessions. He observed that torture has become part of our culture to greater extent than before. There is no remedy to extra judicial killing despite the ratification of UN CAT.
He said the killing is the last form of torture but in Pakistan, sadly, it has become a worst resort. “Only a few are sentenced on violating law and torturing and killing people in custody”, he added. He urged the Pakistani government and state authorities to frame laws and make rules in the line of CAT after its ratification in 2010. “We need to make the rules and create forums which the convention demands.” He further highlighted non-state violence in the name of religions, culture and social customs that is adding into the miseries of the citizens and state is quiet on that. The state torture and organised non-state violence always affects the society negatively.
He said use of gun and ammunition is also becoming a worst and common resort of torture in Pakistan. He said that not condemning the torture is also an indirect approval of torture. Convention Against Torture needs to be taken seriously by Pakistani government, he urged. He said in Pakistan there are many laws and conventions which are not being implemented because of non-framing of rules like CAT and Freedom of Information Ordinance which lapsed because of no rules.
IA Rehman said that the torture has a vast meaning in Pakistani society and sometimes seems that we have developed faith on torture and violence tragically. He said corruption is a major route to violence.
Husain Naqi, veteran journalist and activist, said that the reservations of Pakistan against CAT after its ratification are growing serious concern in the international community and UN circles. The Pakistani parliament has also not been taken into confidence on this CAT and its reservations. He said though Pakistan has taken back some reservations but still main points are to be addressed.
Rabia Bajwa, Lahore High Court lawyer, urged the government to bring legislation according to CAT to stop torture. The whole system has become a torture now, she said. She also called the government to implement the available local laws against torture, which are not being practiced truly. She cited forced confession as a glaring example of torture.
Speakers were of the views that immediately after Pakistani government signed the CAT its started reservations on its almost all important articles that provided protection against torture by state. They said these reservations were coming at a moment when the head of the state President Asif Ali Zardari himself said that had been tortured in the state custody as political prisoner. The seminar also discussed case studies of torture in custody from some victims those participated from Lahore and Sargodha.