ISLAMABAD - Pakistan is up for review before the Human Rights Council for the third time this year, but the government has taken no steps towards implementation of the accepted recommendations, said a report of International Commission of Jurists (ICJ), on Wednesday.

The report launched on the International Day of the Victims of Enforced Disappearances, said that during Pakistan’s first Universal Periodic Review in 2008, Pakistan accepted recommendations made by France, Brazil and Mexico to ratify the Convention on Enforced Disappearances.  The convention, among other obligations, requires enforced disappearance to be made an autonomous crime.

Four years later, during Pakistan’s second Universal Periodic Review, the Government once again received a number of recommendations asking it to ratify the convention and make enforced disappearance a distinct crime.

This time, Pakistan “noted” the recommendation on the ratification of the International Convention on Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearances (ICPPED), but accepted recommendations related to the criminalisation of enforced disappearance.  There have been numerous other calls on the government to recognise enforced disappearance as a distinct crime.

The government constituted a “Task Force on Missing Persons” in 2013 to provide recommendations on how to deal with the prevalent practice.  The task force submitted its report in December 2013.  While the report has not been made public, members of the task force have revealed that one of the recommendations in its report was the criminalisation of the practice.

The report expressed concern at the continuing practice of enforced disappearances in Pakistan and made a series of recommendations to the government.

One of the recommendations was that the crime of enforced disappearance be established and included in the Criminal Code of Pakistan in line with the definition given in the Convention on Enforced Disappearances. The report said that while court judgments were important, in many cases national jurisprudence had failed to fulfil, or had even contradicted, the international obligations of the State.  The Indian Supreme Court, for example, has upheld the constitutionality of laws that shield security forces from accountability.

The Supreme Court of Pakistan too has recently upheld the validity of constitutional amendments empowering military courts to try civilians, including those kept in secret detention, for terrorism-related offences and is delaying hearings on petitions challenging laws that facilitate secret detention in some parts of the country. The report quoting Defence of Human Rights, a non-governmental organization working for the recovery of disappeared persons, said that more than 5,000 cases of enforced disappearance have still not been resolved.  The Voice of Baloch Missing Persons alleges 18,000 people have been forcibly disappeared from Balochistan alone since 2001.