UN panel raises questions over military courts in Pakistan

Lahore [Pakistan], April. 19 : The United Nations Committee Against Torture (CAT) has raised questions over "continued enforced disappearances" and "torture of prisoners in detention" in Pakistan.

Reviewing Pakistan's implementation of the Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment in Geneva on Tuesday, the CAT appeared squarely blame the existence of military courts for this anomaly.

Asserting that the Constitution of Pakistan had prohibited the use of torture under Articles 9, 10 and 14, Human Rights Minister Kamran Michael, said the country has recognised that torture was an outmoded practice that violated human dignity.

"Pakistan continues to uphold provisions of the UN Convention... Its commitment to the protection of human rights precedes the ratification of the UN Charter," Dawn quoted Michael as saying.

Alessio Bruni, of the CAT citing a news article from 2016, said that media reports have however, claimed that a majority of prisoners were tortured in Pakistani prisons and a significant proportion underwent sexual abuse in detention.

Madam Graer, the country rapporteur on CAT for Pakistan, questioned as if there was an independent mechanism for redress in such cases.

She asked that is there any number of complaints made by the prisoners to the chief justice of Pakistan in the case of torture.

Raising the issue of powers of military courts to try civilians, Graer and Belmir questioned as to why the trials were conducted in secret and why no monitors were being allowed? She noted that there were no written judgements of cases tried in military courts.

Mentioning the lynching case of Mashal Khan in Mardan, Graer asked what has Pakistan done to meet requirements of due diligence to prevent private acts of violence.

Saroop Ijaz of the Human Rights Watch pointed out that the Pakistan government had not fulfilled its commitment to introduce reforms to improve the civil justice system.

Senator Kamran Michael led the Pakistan delegation comprising of Special Assistant to the Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif for Human Rights Barrister Zafarullah Khan and Saima Saleem from the Foreign Service.

Source: ANI