‘Pakistan could face trade restrictions if it fails to outlaw torture’

Pakistan on 26 February 2014
Location : Abbotabad | Source : Express Tribune. Image Source: Express Tribune

If Pakistan does not adopt legislation against custodial abuse as per the provisions of the United Nations Convention Against Torture (UNCAT), the country will soon be subjected to trade restrictions from European markets.

This was said at a dialogue session held in Abbottabad on Monday to discuss the rehabilitation of victims of torture and the role of human rights defenders.

The session was arranged by a non-governmental organisation, Human Development Organization (HDO), for members of the Integrated Human Rights Network (IHRN).

HDO Programme In charge Adeel Ahmed briefed participants on the difference between torture and violence as well the key provisions of UNCAT that guarantee torture-free detention and socio-physical rehabilitation of victims of custodial abuse. “Law enforcement agencies use torture with impunity to extract confessions from detainees. This is in contravention of the UN’s human rights treaties as well as Articles 10A and 14(2) of the Constitution,” said Ahmed. The HDO member also highlighted the physical, mental and social impact of torture on victims while stressing the need for efforts, both by the government and society, for the rehabilitation of victims of custodial mistreatment.

According to Advocate Idrees Awan, there are no specific laws about torture in Pakistan, however, certain sections of various laws do prohibit and discourage maltreatment of detainees.

District coordinator for the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP) Madni Ehjaz Jadoon said the country ratified UNCAT in June 2010 under international pressure, however, it has still not honoured its commitment with the international body.

“Soon after the ratification of UNCAT, the government initially filed reservations on eight key articles of the UNCAT and is now using delaying tactics in criminalising torture,” said Jadoon. He added the government’s non-serious attitude could lead the European Union to enforce restrictions on Pakistan’s exports in the near future.

The HRCP coordinator added several civil society organisations have jointly sent the centre a draft legislation which it should approve.

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