Monday, July 29, 2013

Justice for the ‘disappeared’

THE attorney general of Pakistan recently informed the Supreme Court that over 500 persons reported to be ‘missing’ were in the custody of security agencies.
This revelation comes after security agencies had for years denied involvement in cases of enforced disappearances in the country. Three years ago, Pakistan ratified the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), undertaking to safeguard the right to life and liberty, including freedom from arbitrary detention, of its people. Coupled with a newly restored independent Supreme Court committed to defending human rights, many Pakistanis hoped the ratification would help improve Pakistan’s grave human rights record. But the expected improvements have not taken place — in fact, in some cases, the human rights situation has deteriorated. This remains true especially for enforced disappearances, which continue with impunity. It is now time for the Supreme Court to take the necessary steps to hold those state agencies (and agents) accountable that have subjected hundreds, if not thousands, of Pakistanis to enforced disappearance.

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