Enforced disappearance is a heinous offence, says IHC


ISLAMABAD: Enforced disappearance is a “heinous offence” and officials who perpetrate the crime should be “proceeded against for misconduct besides criminal proceedings”, according to a ruling by the Islamabad High Court (IHC).

Justice Athar Minallah expressed dissatisfaction over a report pertaining to a missing scientist and his spouse, Nozair Hasan and Omaima Hasan, which was submitted by the Ministry of Defence (MOD).

The report claimed that the missing persons were not in the custody of the Military Intelligence (MI) or the Inter Services Intelligence (ISI).

Moreover, the ministry also apprised the court that it had initiated an investigation into the matter.

The judge’s written order regarding the report stated that it “is evasive and does not explain efforts made by the intelligence agencies to gather information regarding the incident and whereabouts of the couple”.

Justice Minallah also pointed out that this was the 90th case regarding enforced disappearance since the start of 2018.

The order read, “It is not enough for the MOD secretary  to state that the missing couple is not in the custody of the intelligence agencies and in any event, no citizen can be taken into custody by any agency without due process of law.”

“It is also noted that taking into custody any citizen of Pakistan otherwise than under the law tantamount to a heinous offence, which inter alia may expose the official to be proceeded against for misconduct besides criminal proceeding,” it further said.

The defence secretary was also asked by the judge to inform the court if “the intelligence agencies under the control of his ministry lack the capacity and competence to safeguard fundamental rights of citizens by failing to trace the missing couple”.

The court also warned that if the authorities concerned failed to submit a report they “shall explain as to why they may not be held accountable and proceeded against for breach of their duty”.