Islamabad June 24, 2016: “Adoption by the National Assembly of the anti Torture Bill unanimously passed by the Senate in March 2015,
strengthening the existing National Commission on Human Rights (NCHR), bringing the state agencies under some legislation and neutralizing the Islamic Council’s rhetoric promoting violence against women, are key areas to address issues in torture in the country.
This four step formula was offered by Senator Farhatullah Babar while addressing the HRCP seminar on ending torture in Islamabad today.
He said that after the signing and ratification of Convention Against
Torture (CAT) in 2010 Pakistan was obliged to adopted anti torture
legislation that clearly defined torture and sought to prevent torture for extortion of confession or otherwise.
It will be a quantum jump forward if the National Assembly adopted the anti torture Bill passed by the Senate unanimously and transmitted to the lower House on March 3, last year, he said.
He said that the pronouncements of the Council of Islamic Ideology that husbands can beat their wives was creating a conducive environment for torture in the country and called for neutralizing this anti women rhetoric.
Similarly the provision of safe houses and the Action in Aid of Civil Power Regulation had created built in structures for concealing torture on suspects and needed to be revisited, he said.
Farhatullah Babar said that enforced disappearances and missing persons was a worst form of torture on most hapless citizens. Not only the missing person but his entire family underwent excruciating torture but there was no remedy available against enforced disappearances.
He said that in 2013 the Senate had adopted the report of its human rights committee on this issue which had also proposed draft legislation.
The Senate Committee of the Whole on speedy and inexpensive justice recently had also taken note of this issue and asked the government to respond to the recommendations contained in the report. He said that progress on the Senate recommendation will go a long way in addressing enforced disappearances and torture associated with it.
A study should be carried out preferably by the National Commission on Human Rights (NCHR) on abuse of authority in inflicting torture on detainees and under trial prisoners so as to have a clear picture of the gravity of the situation obtaining in the country, he said.