Pakistan Peoples Party Parliamentarians (PPP) former senator Farhatullah Babar said on Saturday that the party was gravely concerned about the absence of anti-torture legislation amid reports of torture in police stations and opaque detention centres and the party calls for early legislation to criminalize torture.
The former senator's statement came on the eve of the international day against torture observed worldwide on June 26.
He said that the Convention against Torture (CAT) was ratified during the PPP government's tenure in 2010 and it was obligatory to make domestic legislation. A private member bill criminalizing torture was also passed unanimously by the Senate in March 2015, but there has been no progress despite many public assurances by the government during the past three years, he said.
“We live in a state of denial. Official reports submitted to the UN human rights bodies deny torture in state’s detention centres. When the National Commission on Human Rights (NCHR) in 2019 refuted the no-torture claims in its shadow report, the commission itself became dysfunctional since May that year," Babar added.
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As per universally accepted practice, the bill passed by the Senate also stated that war, the threat of war, internal political instability or an order of a superior authority shall not constitute a defence against the commission of the offence of torture. However, during a meeting of the Senate human rights committee it transpired that the government had reservations over it.
Not making this provision in the law will defeat the very purpose of the legislation and raise more questions about internment centres in the country, Babar said further.
He added that allegations of securing confessions under torture are not entirely unfounded. In October 2018, the Peshawar High Court set aside convictions of over 70 people in internment centres on the basis of questionable “confessional statements”. The Supreme Court has suspended the PHC verdict.
Babar called for an independent inquiry into the allegations of involvement of state functionaries in torture in all detention centres
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