Significant number of disappearances remains unresolved in Pakistan and it is 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 marking International Day of the Victims of Enforced Disappearances. 

HRCP also staged a demo outside Lahore Press Club in which IA Rehman, Bushra khaliq, Amir Mirza, Thaira Habib, Najaumddin and members of civil society were present.  

HRCP co-director Najamuddin told The Nation there were no confirm figures of enforced disappeared in the country, some say there are in thousands while others say there are few hundreds. “Pakistan established Commission of Inquiry on Enforced Disappearances (CIED) in 2011 that says there are 4800 cases.”

“Worrisome situation is missing person’s cases are still reported in 2017. And no culprit is behind the bars. The government’s commission gives only statistics every month which is not enough.” he said.

Further HRCP in a statement 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.”

“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,” it added.

“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.

“In its second Universal Periodic Review, the Government of Pakistan had accepted a recommendation (122.20) to specifically criminalise enforced disappearances. However, no concrete steps have been taken so far to make disappearances a distinct and autonomous crime.”

“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.

Order 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.

End the widespread impunity for enforced disappearance. The earliest possible start of proceedings against any state functionaries involved would contribute to giving the people some hope of getting justice.

Ratify the International Convention for the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearance.

Arrange payment of compensation for families of the missing persons that have been suffering for years.

Ensure the government desists from making laws that have the impact of legalizing forms of secret, unacknowledged, and incommunicado detention.

“Enforced disappearances are an affront to the universally held principles of the rule of law, have no place in a civilized society, have brought a bad name to the country and must be discontinued at once.”