Pakistan: Govt forms committee to investigate enforced disappearances

Pakistan: Govt forms committee to investigate enforced disappearances

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ISLAMABAD: The federal government has constituted a committee to investigate rising number of enforced disappearances in the country.

Federal Minister for Law and Justice Barrister Farogh Naseem has been made the convener of the Cabinet Committee.

According to a notification issued by the Ministry of Interior, the committee will also give recommendations on how to control these incidents.

The members of the committee are the law minister, minister for human rights, advisor to prime minister on accountability and interior, Chief Commissioner ICT, IG Islamabad, and representatives of Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) and Intelligence Bureau (IB).

Last week, the International Commission of Jurists (ICJ) regretted that the Commission of Inquiry on Enforced Disappearances (COIED) had failed to address the issue of entrenched impunity, leaving the victims and their loved ones without any redress.

The commission was constituted in March 2011 with a mandate to trace the whereabouts of missing persons and fix responsibility on individuals or organisations responsible for disappearances. The commission is headed by Justice (retd) Javed Iqbal.

A briefing paper on “Entrenching Impunity, Denying Redress: The Commission of Inquiry on Enforced Disappearances in Pakistan” regretted that although the COIED had traced the whereabouts of missing persons in a number of cases, there had been no apparent effort to fix responsibility for this heinous crime.

The briefing paper provided an assessment of the performance of the COIED since its formation and evaluated the legal framework under which the commission operates in the light of international law and standards.

“This commission has failed in holding even a single perpetrator of enforced disappearance responsible in its nine years,” said Ian Seiderman, the ICJ legal and policy director. “A commission that does not address impunity, nor facilitate justice for victims and their families, can certainly not be considered effective.”

The ICJ, comprising 60 eminent judges and lawyers from all regions of the world, promotes and protects human rights through the rule of law by using its unique legal expertise to develop and strengthen national and international justice systems. The body was established in 1952 and is active in five continents.

The ICJ regretted that hundreds, if not thousands, of people continued to be “missing” in Pakistan following their apparent arrest or abduction by or with complicity of the state. The UN Working Group on enforced disappearance has described a “culture of entrenched impunity” regarding the practice.

Despite COIED’s failure to meet the given objectives, its mandate was extended multiple times without any consultation with victims’ groups as to whether or under what conditions its operations should be continued. However, its present mandate expired on September 14.__Tribune.com

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