PPP calls for disbanding panel on enforced disappearances

ISLAMABAD –  Pakistan People’s Party Senator Farhatullah Babar on Thursday called for disbanding the present Commission on Enforced Disappearances, replacing it with a new one, with experts in investigations as members, which should also be required to make its report public.

Taking part in a discussion on the issue of missing persons in Balochistan in the Senate Functional Committee on Human Rights, the PPP lawmaker also proposed that the committee should invite the recovered missing persons so that a conversation on missing persons could be taken forward, a proposal which the committee accepted.

The meeting, chaired by Senator Nasreen Jalil, was attended by senators Mufti Abdul Sattar, Sehar Kamran, Jehanzeb Jamaldini and officials from ministries and the government of Balochistan.

“The impunity of the crime of enforced disappearances continues because the commission has not been able to pursue investigations into the identity of kidnappers in the light of victims’ statements,” Babar said. The law under which the commission has been set up not only empowers it but also obligates the commission to do so but it has failed, he said.

“The commission takes credit for having recovered over two thousand missing persons during the last six years but it has nothing to show by way of pursuing investigations or filing FIR against individuals or institutions found involved in enforced disappearances,” the PPP senator said.

He said that the law had since been amended to empower the commission to make public its reports directly without requiring government approval and asked what has prevented the commission from making its periodic reports public.

The committee also called for making public the report of the first 2010 commission under the late Justice Mansoor Kamal which worked for only one-year.

Babar also called for a look into “what was going on in the internment centres in different parts of the country which he said were Pakistani version of Guantanamo Bay like prisons.”

He said that the Action in Aid of Civil Power Regulation promulgated in 2011 was given backdated effect from 2008 to enable law enforcing agencies to bring into the open those caught during the fight against militancy in Swat and Malakand to stand open trial while at the same time protecting the agencies from prosecution. “This was an extraordinary concession to the agencies,” he said. However, these centres had become Pakistani Guantanamo Bay prisons and virtual black holes from which no information was forthcoming, he said.

He said that all state institutions like the Supreme Court, the Parliament, the National Commission on Human Rights and the Commission on Enforced Disappearances appeared helpless in addressing the issue of missing persons. It clearly means that the invisible perpetrators of the crime are far more powerful than all these state institutions put together, he said.

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