The Supreme Court has given a three-week deadline to the government to appoint the head of a judicial commission constituted for tracing missing persons.
At Tuesday’s hearing, Additional Attorney-General of Pakistan KK Agha informed the three-member bench that the government had approached a retired judge to head the Commission of Inquiry for Missing Persons but he declined the offer.
Agha said that the government is considering a few names and will announce the chairperson before Eidul Fitr.
The court then adjourned hearing till September 8 and observed that, at the next date of hearing, it will take up cases one by one.
Amna Masood Janjua, who chairs the NGO Defence of Human Rights and is campaigning for the recovery of her missing husband, requested the court to appoint Justice (retd) Javed Iqbal as the new chairperson of the commission. Justice Iqbal, who was heading the bench before he retired on August 1, had taken strict notice of enforced disappearances.
“The court is not authorised to appoint a new head of the commission,” Chief Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry, who is heading the bench, told Janjua but assured her that the government will finalise the name of the commission’s new head.
The number of missing persons is increasing by each passing day as 50 more cases were filed in the SC in 2011, Janjua claimed. “Due to the SC’s intervention, around 400 missing people have been found. But they are terrified of divulging any information about who kidnapped them,” she said.
At the last hearing, Janjua said that the government had not yet paid compensation to families of missing persons who were living in immense difficulty. She said that according to her information, the number of missing persons is 228.
The problem of enforced disappearances is chronic in Balochistan. In a report released in July, New-York based advocacy group Human Rights Watch documents 49 cases of enforced disappearances, 36 of which originated between 2009 and 2010.
Published in The Express Tribune, August 18th, 2011.