Missing persons: UN fact-finding mission points finger at agencies

Published: September 21, 2012
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Chair rapporteur of the UN working group on enforced disappearances Olivier de Frouville in Islamabad. PHOTO: INP

Chair rapporteur of the UN working group on enforced disappearances Olivier de Frouville in Islamabad. PHOTO: INP

ISLAMABAD: The visiting United Nations panel on enforced disappearances on Thursday advised Pakistani authorities to strike a balance between compulsions imposed by the war on terror and human rights considerations, as it indirectly blamed security and intelligence agencies for the missing persons cases.

At a news conference to wrap up their 10-day mission to Pakistan, the UN Working Group on Enforced or Involuntary Disappearances (WGEID) team saw a link between the fight against terrorism and the rising number of missing persons and called for respecting human rights by the law enforcement agencies.

“The working group acknowledges these threats (terrorism) and the need for the state to ensure the right to life of their citizens,” read the 10-page report the working group issued at the end of its visit.

“However, it also underlines that actions taken to deal with security threats and in particular with terrorism must at all times respect nationally or internationally recognised human rights,” the report added.

“Human rights violations under the pretext of fighting terrorism can only lead to further violations,” the group mentioned in its report, based on its interaction with the families of missing persons and several federal and provincial authorities.

One of the key recommendations by the group was that the government should create clear rules and dedicated institutions in order to ensure the oversight and the accountability of law enforcement and security agencies.

It also called for changing a rule under which a military suspect could not be produced in civilian courts because this constitutes impunity.

The working group’s visit was snubbed by the leaders of several key institutions including the military, intelligence agencies and judiciary along with some opposition parliamentarians despite the fact that the government invited the mission.

With so many institutions and political actors opposing the visit, it is unclear whether the group’s findings would make any substantial difference except highlighting the cases of missing persons internationally.

The report said it was ‘regretful’ that leaders of higher judiciary (including Chief Justice Iftikhar Mohammad Chaudhry), military hierarchy, intelligence agencies and provincial police departments refused meetings with the group.

It questioned the roles of both the inquiry commission set up by the government to recover missing persons and the judiciary in exerting its authority on the agencies which operate with ‘extreme impunity’.

Though the report avoided levelling any direct allegations, it said in most cases ‘there is a pattern of enforced disappearances, imputable to law enforcement institutions in conjunction with intelligence agencies’.

The report also did not come up with an agreed figure of missing persons in Pakistan.

Quoting some private sources, the group said there were more than 14,000 people missing in Balochistan alone while the government authority put the figure below one hundred.

Published in The Express Tribune, September 21st, 2012.

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Reader Comments (15)

  • daal main bahut kuch kala hai
    Sep 21, 2012 - 9:41AM

    ‘there is a pattern of enforced disappearances, imputable to law enforcement institutions in conjunction with intelligence agencies’.
    ++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++
    isnt this outright condemnation?

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  • Easiest test
    Sep 21, 2012 - 9:56AM

    Ironic, “Human rights violations under the pretext of fighting terrorism can only lead to further violations,” Never said anything about drone strikes?
    Hypocrisy at its best.
    Go on American fanboys/indians.

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  • syed baqar ahsan
    Sep 21, 2012 - 10:26AM

    Normally all western visitors go India after visiting Pakistan. Will this UN mission visit India to find out how many missing in Indian held Kashmir for last two decades.As long as our army and int agencies cooperated with USA against our own interest and against all the neighbors we were good and now these watch dogs are on the bark.”Double Gaming”of the west at his best.

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  • Dr.X
    Sep 21, 2012 - 3:55PM

    Good job. Now time to go look into Guantanamo bay…

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  • Khan
    Sep 21, 2012 - 5:28PM

    I think it would be best to take the advice of the UN group instead of giving it advice. It is against the rules of common logic and debate to point a finger at Who is talking rather than What is being talked about. Simply because it deviates from issue on the table. If you were just gossiping, there would be no rules and you can point a finger at anyone and everyone as you please. But is this article just gossip?

    Drones are another matter entirely and there are people in “the West” already raising their voices against drones. Wake up and smell some international media.Recommend

  • A.Khan
    Sep 21, 2012 - 6:44PM

    14000 is a big number. I hope the responsible people realize the mistake soon.

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  • Arsalan
    Sep 21, 2012 - 7:27PM

    Will they be publishing the names, Pics and Address’s of those 14000 supposedly MISSING people ?Recommend

  • Enlightened
    Sep 21, 2012 - 9:07PM

    It is indeed sad to note that almost all Pakistanis who have so far commented on this forum, are trying to justify the forced abduction and killings in Balochistan by the Security agencies, quoting similar cases happening in India and US. Any individual accused of murder charge cannot plead to the judge to absolve him of this henius crime quoting that man in the neighboring country is roaming free having committed the same crime. Drawing of parallel in human rights violation cases is internationally unacceptable norm and also an extremely dangerous trend which may lead to 1971 like situation in Pakistan, resulting in further division of the country.

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  • Tassawar
    Sep 21, 2012 - 11:09PM

    The mission must go to Afghanistan and Iraq also.

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  • Tassawar
    Sep 21, 2012 - 11:14PM

    @Enligtened
    Brother, we are not trying to justify the forced abductions. In fact we all want to know what fact finding this mission has done and furthermore why a UN mission and not our own judiciary. We all support CJP to investigate the matter and establish the facts and punish the culprits, whether FC, Police or Terrorists.

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  • ammar
    Sep 21, 2012 - 11:57PM

    also look at human rights violations in mynammar,kashmir,palestine.
    what about innocent people killed in drone strikes!!

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  • Cautious
    Sep 22, 2012 - 12:05AM

    @Dr.X

    Good job. Now time to go look into
    Guantanamo bay…

    USA invited UN Human Rights to Guantanamo in 2005. Pretty sure the thousands that are missing in Balochistan don’t care much about that visit.

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  • Khan of Jandul
    Sep 22, 2012 - 7:40AM

    The human rights voilation on the part of the US, India or any other country doesnot release Pakistan of the criminal responsibility for voilating basic human rights of its citizens. It doesnot make any sense for Pakistan to argue that as other countries are abusing human rights, so they have also right to kidnapp, torture and kill innocent people. Crime is a crime.

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  • Nand
    Sep 22, 2012 - 10:28AM

    Pakistan: Let us do whatever we want to do, whether its killing or forced abduction. We just want the world to respect Islam.

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  • Abreez
    Sep 22, 2012 - 12:41PM

    By executing some Hawks of Army, Pakistan can get two benefits,
    1. Only brave, able, honest and loyal Pakistani join the Army.
    2. In future America will not find any Musharraf again.

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