PESHAWAR: Ten more ‘missing’ persons were identified and sent to different internment centres established in the tribal areas and settled parts of Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa (K-P).
Nine persons were identified by the Ministry of Defence while one was identified by the Frontier Corps (FC) during a hearing pertaining to enforced disappearances at the Peshawar High Court (PHC) on Thursday.
A division bench comprising PHC Chief Justice Dost Muhammad Khan and Justice Asadullah Khan Chamkani, however, expressed concerns when the defence ministry denied keeping 177 persons in their custody. A total of 286 applications were enlisted to the cause list yesterday (Thursday).
During the course of the hearing, Deputy Attorney General Muzammil Khan informed the court the federal government had denied keeping 177 persons in its custody. He added agencies had been working on around 99 applications, trying to discover the whereabouts of the missing persons.
The bench remarked the state did not even know the whereabouts of 177 of its citizens, adding maintaining illegal detention centres was against the law and the Action in Aid of Civil Power Regulations 2011 did not allow such installations.
“We (the court) have noticed detention centres are being run in no-go-areas of Peshawar Cantt. Such unlawful centres are also being maintained in Ghallani, Bajaur, Kurram, Orakzai and Khyber agencies,” observed Justice Khan.
The bench pointed out in the past, agencies denied keeping people in illegal custody, but later released them from their custody. “How can we believe them (agencies) when they deny this again,” said Justice Khan, adding those held for alleged anti-state activities should be identified and tried in courts.
Muzammil told the court some people had filed petitions, but their relatives were still fighting security forces. In response, the bench remarked the court was aware of the fact and would never let perpetrators roam around freely. It stressed security forces had been called in to help the civil administration not run illegal detention centres.
Additionally, Capital City Police Officer Liaqat Ali said it was beyond police’s mandate to raid such centres in areas not in their jurisdiction (tribal areas). He assured the court no such centre was running within their territorial jurisdiction.
The bench also inquired about an alleged militant who had been arrested along with a suicide bomber last year. The bomber was produced before the court, but the supposed facilitator was allegedly whisked away by security agencies.
The court ordered all concerned officials, including field commanders, to take court verdicts seriously and close illegal detention centres. The bench also demanded a detailed categorised (black, white and gray) list of those currently in custody.
The bench made it clear it would discuss whether the Frontier Corps had a mandate for detaining people, given the fact that it was a paramilitary force. Concerned officials have been summoned before the PHC in this regard on July 23.
Published in The Express Tribune, June 28th, 2013.