Pakistan is a signatory to the Convention against Torture, and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (CAT) and the International Convention on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR). Yet, Pakistani media is rife with stories of how people lose their lives in police custody. Just recently, two teenage boys, Muhammad Asim and Shahzaib, lost their lives in police custody.
According to the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP), “Pakistan is under obligation to adopt all measures to prevent and punish acts of torture. Under these treaties, states also have an obligation to provide adequate redress to victims of torture. Failing to criminalise torture has put the lives, the freedoms and the rights of vulnerable groups including children, women and people from disadvantaged backgrounds. It has plagued and corrupted the criminal justice system with false convictions and broken the trust between the law enforcement mechanism and citizens.”
HRCP called upon the Parliament to “uphold its duty as enshrined in Article 14 (2) of the Constitution to protect the right of the very citizens who elected it. In the absence of a legal framework to define and criminalise torture, the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan is concerned about the use of torture in various forms by various state agencies, both civilian and military. Apart from active instances of torture in police lockups and prisons, there has been no letup in extra-judicial killings, enforced disappearances, honour killings, persecution of religious minorities, sectarian attacks and domestic violence. Moreover, HRCP is concerned that the safeguards against torture initiated by the government through the National Commission for Human Rights and National Commission on the Status of Women have been rendered dysfunctional in recent years.”