The federal government has issued a stern warning to security agencies and military authorities that it will take severe action against them in the case of enforced disappearances, the Supreme Court was told on Monday.
Defence Secretary Asif Yasin Malik told the three-judge bench headed by Justice Nasirul Mulk that a four-hour long meeting was held with relevant officers of military and spy agencies regarding the missing persons issue on February 14.
The incident of Hafiz Muhammad Jamil, a resident of Rawalpindi who has been missing for two years, was the focal point of discussion during the ‘missing’ persons’ case hearing in the apex court.
He also informed the bench that he has warned them about the “severe consequences” of enforced disappearances as well as conveyed that action will be taken against them in this regard.
On February 12, the defence secretary appeared before the SC on the Balochistan targeted killing case and told the bench that he would summon a special meeting of all stakeholders, including officers of the army, spy agencies and provincial departments, regarding the issue of ‘missing’ persons from Balochistan.
Upon this, the bench had asked him to submit a response regarding the outcome of this meeting on February 20.
However, the defence secretary appearing in the matter of Hafiz Muhammad Jamil on Monday revealed some details of his meeting with military officials regarding the ‘missing’ persons’ issue.
The apex court, while taking up an application of the Defence of Human Rights in the same matter on February 3, 2014 summoned the defence secretary on February 17.
On the query of the bench, the defence secretary told the bench that Hafiz Muhammad Jamil was also discussed in the meeting, adding that there are 43 internment centres in the country but that ‘missing’ persons have not yet been found in the 20 centres that have been inspected.
He requested the bench to give two weeks regarding the verification of the remaining 23 internment centres. Justice Nasirul Mulk said that the court’s concern is only to know about the whereabouts of the ‘missing’ persons.
The court, however, decided to take up this matter along with the Balochistan target killing case. The bench has also asked the secretary to present Hafiz Jamil on February 20.
Earlier, after verifying evidence in the presence of ISI, MI and other officials in the Hafiz Jamil matter, the inquiry commission probing the ‘missing persons’ case on November 11, 2013 concluded that prima facie, it is a case of enforced disappearance.
The commission had also directed the interior ministry to register a case against officials who are involved in the enforced disappearance of Jamil.
A government official told The Express Tribune that the interior ministry had refused to take action against army officials in view of the commission’s direction, as the ministry believed that military men can only be dealt with under the Army Act 1952.
On March 20, 2013, DIG CID Feroze Shah had submitted a report in the Supreme Court regarding the nominated army officials, which include two Lieutenant Colonels, six majors and two subedars.
On January 30, Shahid Hamid, counsel for the Balochistan government, had complained before the bench that the FC is not under effective control of the provincial government, as out of the 16 FC officials nominated in the ‘missing’ persons cases, none had appeared before the police to record their statements.
Published in The Express Tribune, February 18th, 2014.
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