LAHORE: Human rights advocacy group Amnesty International has called upon Pakistan to ensure a prompt, fair and transparent trial of the accused in the Sialkot lynching case.
“Ensuring the accountability of all those directly or indirectly involved in the incident, including police officials, is integral to maintaining the rule of law,” says a five-page letter written by Sam Zarifi, Amnesty International’s Asia-Pacific director, to Law Minister Maula Bux Chandio.
Copies of the letter have also been sent to the chief justice of the SC and the Punjab Chief Minister, sources said.
The incident, which took place in August last year, led to widespread condemnation locally and internationally. Footage of the incident, showed policemen standing on the sidelines as a mob mercilessly lynched brothers Mughees, 19, and Muneeb, 16, with iron rods at Doburji Chowk in Sialkot. Members of the mob accused the brothers of being robbers but a judicial inquiry ordered by the Supreme Court found the boys were innocent.
“After the footage was broadcast on national television, 11 police officials and 17 others were arrested on suspicion of involvement. The case is currently before a special anti-terrorism court in Gujranwala,” the letter says.
“Pakistani authorities must ensure members of the police who failed to prevent the lynching and those who carried it out are brought to justice in fair trials, which comply with international human rights standards, without recourse to the death penalty,” the letter says.
Public outrage had led to suspension of DPO Waqas Chohan, who was the Sialkot police chief at the time of the incident, but he has now been transferred to Islamabad.
After receiving the letter, Punjab chief minister secretariat has ordered the provincial home department secretary to respond to Amnesty International. The home department has referred the matter to additional inspector general of Punjab Police, sources said.
Published in The Express Tribune, August 26th, 2011.