HRCP calls for action on UN plea on disappearances

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Lahore—The Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP) has called upon the government to implement the recommendations made by the United Nation’s Working Group on Enforced or Involuntary Disappearances. The commission has also asked the authorities concerned to pay due attention to the working group’s latest report to the UN Human Rights Council.
A statement issued by the commission here today said “In its latest report to the UN Human Rights Council, the UN Working Group on Enforced or Involuntary Disappearances (WGEID) has again regretted that the government of Pakistan has not implemented the recommendations it had made after its visit to the country in 2012”.
These recommendations included the following:
Enforced disappearance should be made a crime in the Penal Code, based on the definition of the offence as given in UN Convention on Disappearances. The Commission of Inquiry on Enforced or Involuntary Disappearances should be strengthened by increasing its members, staff and financial resources. Any person deprived of liberty should be kept at an officially recognised place. In case of human rights violations, the suspected perpetrators should be suspended and tried by a normal court. Financial aid should be provided to the families of victims of enforced disappearance.
Pakistan should ratify the Convention for the Protection of all Persons against Enforced Disappearances. The Working Group has thanked the government of Pakistan for providing information on a “high number of cases” in February 2016, which demonstrates “the government’s commitment to engage with the Working Group.” The Group also described meeting with the government’s representative at its 109th session as “constructive.” However, the Working Group is “concerned that, during the reporting period, it transmitted to the Government 321 new cases under its urgent action procedure, a large number of which concern individuals abducted in the Sindh Province, who are reportedly affiliated with the Muttahida Quomi Movement.” The Group “reiterates that, as provided in article 7 of the Declaration, no circumstances whatsoever may be invoked to justify enforced disappearances, and that accurate information on the detention of such persons and their place or places of detention, including transfers, shall be made promptly available to their family members, their counsel or to any other persons having a legitimate interest in the information (art. 10 (2) of the Declaration).”
The WGEID in its observations on Pakistan said: “The Working Group reiterates its regrets that the Government did not reply to the concerns mentioned in the general allegation concerning the Protection of Pakistan Act, transmitted by the Working Group on 20 November 2015, jointly with other mandates.
“The Working Group thanks the Government of Pakistan for its cooperation throughout the process, but regrets that most of the recommendations contained in its country report have not been implemented. The Working Group hopes that its recommendations will be duly and promptly implemented”.
Since its inception in 1980, the Working Group has transmitted a total of 55,273 cases to 107 states. The number of cases under active consideration (on 18 May 2016) was 44,159 in 91 states.
The latest report covers the activities of, and communications and cases examined by, the Working Group during the period 16 May 2015 to 18 May 2016. During the period under review, representatives of a number of governments, including Pakistan, attended the sessions of the Working Group. The other governments were Burundi, Egypt, Japan, Maldives, Morocco, the Sudan and Ukraine. During the reporting period, the Working Group transmitted 766 new cases of enforced disappearance to 37 states.
463 of these cases were transmitted under the urgent action procedure to 20 states.
The Working Group clarified 161 cases, in 17 states. Of the 161 cases, 67 were clarified on the basis of information provided by governments and 94 on the basis of information provided by sources.
Pakistan is among the 12 countries to whom the Working Group transmitted prompt intervention communications addressing allegations of harassment of and/or threats to human rights defenders and relatives of disappeared persons. The other countries were Bangladesh, the Central African Republic, China, Colombia, the Congo, Guatemala, India, Iraq, Mexico, Serbia and Venezuela. Pakistan was also among the seven countries to whom the Working Group transmitted general allegations, related to obstacles to the implementation of the Declaration on disappearances”.—INP