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Adjournment Motion in Senate on custodial death in Karachi

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Islamabad May 5, 2016: The PPP today submitted an adjournment motion in the Senate to discuss ‘the implications of custodial death’ at the hands f a law enforcing agency in Karachi the other day. The motion was submitted by Senator Farhatullah Babar.

An MQM activist Aftab Ahmad, also a close aide of MQM leader Farooq Sattar, allegedly died due to severe torture while in the custody of Rangers in Karachi on May 3.

Senator Farhatullah Babar said that the incident had bought into focus the extra judicial and custodial deaths not only in Karachi but also in Balochistan and highlights the need for adopting Anti Torture legislation at the earliest.

Extraordinary powers given to law enforcing agencies in the name of fighting terror must also have corresponding checks and oversight over the law enforcing agencies to prevent their misuse.

In view of the conflicting statements made by Rangers and the doctors about when and how Aftab had died it is necessary to hold an impartial judicial investigation into the matter. An inquiry by the law enforcing agency accused of custodial death will lack credibility.

He said there was also a need to review section 11 EEEE in the ATC 1997 which disallows judicial discretion in the matter of detention of suspects for up to 90 days without any oversight mechanism.

He said that the anti torture bill was passed unanimously by the senate in March last year and is pending with the National Assembly and that the Party will seek its early adoption

The Bill defines “Torture” as inflicting physical or mental pain upon another person in custody, for obtaining any information or a confession or harassing and molesting a woman for this purpose.

The Bill prescribes life imprisonment and fine of three million rupees for custodial death or custodial rape and a minimum of 5 years in jail and fine up to one million rupees for torture. The amount of fine recovered will be paid to the victim.

No female shall be detained to extract information regarding the whereabouts of a person accused of any offence. A female can be taken into custody only by a female public servant and not by any male.

Any statement obtained as a result of torture will be inadmissible as evidence.

Every offence under it is cognizable, non-compoundable and non-bailable.

A state of war, emergency, political instability or an order of a superior authority shall not constitute a defence against torture.

Senator Farhatullah Babar said that Pakistan signed the Convention against Torture in 2008 and ratified it in 2010 during the PPP government. The Bill passed by the Senate in March last year was the enabling legislation in this regard.

He said that failure to adopt anti torture legislation would be inconsistent with our signing and ratification of Convention against Torture and also invite global criticism at a time when Pakistan needs to retain the GSP plus status. Worse still the absence of anti torture law is a sort of license to the law enforcing agencies to torture and even kill suspects while in custody.

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