New York: The Pakistani government was Thursday urged to affirm its commitment to end enforced disappearances by ratifying an international treaty.
Islamabad should ratify the International Convention for the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearance, the International Commission of Jurists (ICJ) and Human Rights Watch said.
The third annual UN International Day of the Victims of Enforced Disappearances is on Friday.
“Ratifying the Convention against Disappearances is a key test for Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif’s new government,” said Ali Dayan Hasan, the Pakistan director at Human Rights Watch.
“The government would send a clear political message that it’s serious about ending ‘disappearances’. And it would show its commitment to ensuring justice for serious human rights violations.”
Pakistan’s participation in the US-led “war on terror” since 2001 has resulted in hundreds and perhaps thousands of individuals being “disappeared.”
In addition to those arbitrarily detained in counterterrorism operations, journalists, human rights activists, and alleged members of separatist and nationalist groups, particularly in Balochistan province, have been and continue to be forcibly disappeared.
Despite repeated denials by Pakistan’s security agencies, the Supreme Court of Pakistan has acknowledged and human rights groups have documented evidence of the involvement of intelligence and security agencies in enforced disappearances.
In July, Pakistan’s attorney general admitted that more than 500 “disappeared” persons are in security agency custody.
Under international law, a state commits an enforced disappearance when its agents take a person into custody and then deny holding the person, or conceal or fail to disclose the person’s whereabouts.