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Sunday, 14 May 2017


A United Nations committee has censured the “widespread practice of torture” by Pakistani police, military and intelligence agencies, urging the country to make urgent reforms to the law. “The police engage in the widespread practice of torture throughout the territory ... with a view to obtaining confessions from persons in custody,” said the UN Committee against Torture in a report published Friday after probing the issue for months.

The report further read, “The Committee is seriously concerned at reports that members of the State party’s military forces; intelligence forces ... and paramilitary forces  have been implicated in a significant number of cases of extra-judicial executions involving torture and enforced disappearances.” The UN committee also underlined that the country’s so-called Torture, Custodial Death and Custodial Rape Bill, which was presented years ago, has yet to be passed by the legislature.

This is while Pakistan ratified the Convention against Torture in 2010, but submitted its first report on the situation in the South Asian nation only this year four years late. The committee further called on Islamabad to “incorporate into its legislation a specific definition of torture” that can be applied without exception, including to the army, which is often reported to have abused its powers.

According to the findings of the report, several Pakistani bloggers were tortured after their arrest over criticizing extremism in the country as well as the authorities. The committee also pointed out that Islamabad had failed to launch a probe into any of such cases, or into a number of people who had disappeared or killed while in custody.

Meanwhile, Pakistan-based National Commission of Human Rights, an institution affiliated with the country’s parliament, has welcomed the UN report, saying “the publication could help start a conversation about torture” in the country. It further underlined that a “total” ban on torture is an “unequivocal prerequisite to effectively fight terrorism.”

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