Islamabad: The Pakistan government is ‘purposely avoiding’ making law against torture in custody, and is “providing impunity to the perpetrators who are mostly either policemen or members of the armed forces,” the Asian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) has said.
“Torture in custody is a serious problem affecting the rule of law in Pakistan. It is used as the most common means by which to obtain confessional statements and also for extracting bribes. Torture in custody has become endemic and on many occasions the police and members of the armed forces have demonstrated torture in open place to create fear in the general public,” the AHRC said in a statement.
“The absence of proper complaint centres and no particular law to criminalize torture makes the menace of torture wide spread. The torture cases have to be reported to the police, therefore the police, being the main perpetrators of torture refuse to register the cases. This is the main reason why official data about the cases of torture is not available,” it added.
The AHRC noted that so far, the Pakistan Government has made no serious effort to make torture a crime in the country.
“Rather, the state provides impunity to the perpetrators who are mostly either policemen or members of the armed forces. Furthermore, there is no means for the protection of witnesses. This discourages victims from making complaints,” it rued.
In spite of the prohibition of torture in the Constitution, the Pakistan Army is running detention and torture cells in almost every city in the country, it said, citing one of its reports that identified 52 such detention centres run by the military, where people who were arrested and disappeared are kept incommunicado and tortured for several months to extract the confessions.
The AHRC has documented evidence that the Pakistan Air Force and the Pakistan Navy are also running detention and torture cells in private houses inside their headquarters compounds.
It urged the Pakistan Government to heed the calls for the legislation of an effective law against torture, and to ensure that once this law is propagated, it will be vigorously enforced.