The Supreme Court has given the government a one-week deadline to compensate heirs of missing persons for the third time, refusing to validate the reasons it routinely advances for the delay.
The government has yet to approve a plan and release funds for compensating heirs of missing persons, Additional Attorney General KK Agha informed a three-member bench on Wednesday. “The government is short of funds and cannot pay compensation immediately.” It has been nearly a year since the apex court had directed the government to pay compensation to missing persons’ families as a means of financial support. Agha had earlier submitted that a committee had been formed to pay compensation to the families in line with the court’s order, but it was still deliberating upon a formula. Contradictory statements and delay in awarding compensation had provoked the bench and it had warned the government of dire consequences if its orders were not implemented on the previous hearing. Chairperson Defence of Human Rights Amina Masood Janjua said compensation paid to a select number of families of missing persons was too little.
The bench decided to hear the cases of Muhammad Ali, Fazl-e-Rabbi and Mustafa Azam after Eid and referred chronic cases of Fazal Kareem, Haroon Khan and Muhammad Idrees to the judicial commission tasked to trace missing persons. Agha said the agencies had made it clear to the commission that these missing persons were not in their custody. “Family members of missing persons avoid giving statements before the commission.” “You are playing games with the court. You do not provide assistance at every single hearing as is expected of you,” said Justice Jawad S Khawaja. Moreover, the commission constituted to recover missing persons has not proved effective. “How will the case progress if secret agencies refuse to own up to the custody of missing persons,” he questioned. Agha said the commission recorded statements of missing persons’ family members to discover the truth. Justice Khawaja warned of divine retribution against those responsible for enforced disappearances. The case was adjourned till November 16.
Published in The Express Tribune, October 27th, 2011.
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