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Govt urged to sign int'l conventions on forced disappearances

28 June, 2012

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ISLAMABAD: The Senate Functional Committee on Human Rights on Wednesday through adoption of a resolution recommended the government to sign international conventions on protection of people against forced disappearance, to discourage the increasing number of missing persons in the country.

Senator Afrasiab Khattak presided over a meeting of the committee at the Parliament House. The committee expressed displeasure over the increasing number of missing persons. The meeting was requisitioned by four lawmakers – Senators Farhatullah Babar, Farhat Abbas, Sardar Ali Khan and Mushahid Hussain Syed.

Senator Babar presented a resolution in the committee, asking the government to sign international conventions on protection of people against forced disappearance, saying it would ensure provision of basic human rights and protect the citizens from forced disappearance. The committee unanimously adopted the resolution.

The committee expressed reservations over formation of another commission on missing persons while there already existed one on that issue. The first commission was formed on April 28, 2010, on the direction of the Supreme Court, called the Commission of Inquiry on Enforced Disappearances, led by Justice (r) Kamal Mansoor and including Justice (r) Fazalur Rehman and Justice (r) Nasira Javed Iqbal as members.

The commission reported on December 31, 2010, that a total of 392 cases of alleged forced disappearances had been registered with it through various sources. As per the final report of the commission, a total of 134 persons had been traced, 96 cases were deleted being not instances of forced disappearance and 24 were deleted due to incomplete particulars.

Thereafter, another commission for inquiry of forced disappearances constituted by the Interior Ministry started its work in March 2011. The commission was first headed by Justice Fazalur Rehman, but later by Justice (r) Javed Iqbal, due to appointment of the former as a member of the Election Commission of Pakistan.

The committee was informed that the commission continued its hearings on almost daily basis and the number of traced persons was increasing.

It was further informed that on December 31, 2010, the number of missing persons in Islamabad Capital Territory (ICT) was two, which had increased to 30 afterwards. While briefing the committee, Defence Secretary Nargis Sethi requested the legislators to finalise the Anti-Terror Act as quickly as possible, which is pending with the committee for the last several months. She claimed that most of the missing persons' cases were related to the anti-terror act.

The whole world was hostile to the government agencies, but the agencies were doing their work in the best interest of the country, she said, adding that the agencies were also doing some good work which needed acknowledgement and protection.

The Defence Ministry was wrongly blamed for the cases of missing persons, Sethi said, adding that the Supreme Court in a ruling had said that 85 percent of the disappearances were being carried out by the Frontier Corps (FC), which was not under the control of the Defence Ministry. She said there were a lot of things that were not under her control (as Defence Ministry secretary). Issues relating to logistics, budget and general strategic direction of the agencies belonged to the ministry, she said.

The committee suggested that the government should legislate over the anti-terror act. It also suggested criminal proceedings be started against people involved in missing persons' cases.

End.

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