At least 130 people, previously said to be ‘missing’, have been traced and shifted to various internment centres, the Peshawar High Court (PHC) learnt on Tuesday. Six others were given into police custody over criminal charges while four Afghan nationals were handed over to Khyber Agency’s political administration.
These figures were shared by Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa (K-P) Additional Advocate General (AAG) Waqar Ahmad Khan, who submitted a report before the two-member bench of Chief Justice Mazhar Alam Miankhel and Justice Malik Manzoor Hussain. The bench was hearing 85 petitions of enforced disappearances.
AAG Khan informed the court that 130 persons were shifted to internment centres in the province; these were people who went missing earlier in alleged instances of enforced disappearances.
Five were handed over to Bhakkar police in Punjab and one to Peshawar police while four Afghan nationals were given into the custody of the Khyber Agency political administration on various criminal charges.
CJ Miankhel questioned why the orders of the court were not being complied with regarding internment centres; the bench should be informed about actions taken on previous orders. The PHC had previously ordered the complete details regarding each petition be made available – when the person was arrested, where they were shifted, the charges made, if any, as well as the actions taken by relevant internment centre oversight boards.
Khan told the court that on June 11 a meeting was held where several important decisions were taken on internment centres and internees. He handed a sealed envelope to the bench which contained the meeting’s minutes and requested it should not be made part of the record.
The bench read the contents of the envelope before returning it to the representative of the home and tribal affairs department. People have been stuck in internment centres for about six years and those who are innocent should be released, said CJ Miankhel.
The chief justice appreciated the efforts of the provincial government regarding missing persons but said the report regarding the oversight boards and internment centres was “not enough”.
Upon this, the AAG told the bench there are seven internment centres in the province and two are still not functional in Chitral. The provincial government is doing its best to fully comply with all orders of the court, he added.
“The government is shifting detainees to other internment centres due to security reasons and the in charge alone cannot provide all information because all details of oversight boards are with the commissioner of the relevant district,” said Khan.
The court then issued a show-cause notice to the additional chief secretary of Fata over the petitions and asked him to explain why legal steps cannot be taken against him.
The court also directed the inspector general of the Frontier Corps to provide a complete report on internees in all internment centres and forts situated in the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (Fata).
At a previous hearing, a report was produced which stated there were 708 missing persons in eight internment centres of K-P and Fata while on-ground checks for the rest of those missing is in progress.
Published in The Express Tribune, June 25th, 2014.