Zohra Yousuf says Karachi operation needs to be
transparent to prevent human rights violations
The special policing powers that allow paramilitary soldiers to arrest people without a warrant and any concrete evidence, keep them in custody for 90 days, and torture or humiliate suspects in their custody violate the principles of human rights, the chief of the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan said in a talk with The News on Wednesday.
As the world will mark the Human Rights Day on Thursday (today), Human Rights Commission of Pakistan chairperson Zohra Yousuf expressed her reservations over the state of human rights in the country, particularly in Karachi.
“Although the Karachi operation has yielded positive results as far as law and order is concerned, an increase in extrajudicial killings and enforced disappearances in the city has been noticed too,” she added.
“Therefore, there exists a big question mark on its [the operation’s] transparency.”
To a question, Yousuf said the issue of extending the period of special policing powers granted to the Rangers must be debated in the legislatures so that a due procedure was followed.
She said the Protection of Pakistan Ordinance was contrary to fundamental human rights values.
“Arrests without warrants and detention for 90 consecutive days are not in any manner lawful,” she added.
“The need of the hour is better coordination between intelligence agencies. Detaining people for 90 days is not the answer to tackling terrorism and crime.”
She said torture and continuous detention was making it easier for the law enforcement agencies to coerce confessions.
In a fact-finding document published by the HRCP comprising interviews of mainstream political parties of Karachi and the provincial bureaucracy, it was claimed by the Muttahida Qaumi Movement’s central leadership that the law enforcement agencies had arrested 3,859 party activist till October 2, of which 2,811 were released after they were severely tortured.
In a meeting with one of the families of these activists, the HRCP came across the case of Muhammad Adeel, 30, who was picked up by eight people in civvies.
A writ petition was filed by the family for his recovery, but all efforts went in vain.
Later, through an Urdu newspaper, they found out that his body was at the Edhi morgue.
Interestingly, the Sindh chief secretary told the HRCP team that contrary to the widely stressed narrative that the chief minister was heading the Karachi operation the provincial government had no control or role in this regard.
Universal Periodic Review
The Universal Periodic Review was created by the UN General Assembly aimed at identifying human rights violations, supporting States in rectifying them and improving the human rights situations in all countries.
At the mid-term phase of the review cycle, the HRCP presented an assessment of the implementation of recommendations that Pakistan accepted in five thematic areas: women’s rights, rights of the child, freedom of thought, conscience and religion, human rights defenders and freedom of expression; and enforced and involuntary disappearances.
According to the HRCP’s assessment, the government’s performance in fulfilling its commitment at the mid-cycle period was far from satisfactory. Of the 67 accepted recommendations reviewed, 38 recommendations had not been implemented at all, 29 were partially implemented and not a single recommendation had been implemented completely.