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Focus on torture

38 16 32

THE increasing incidence of torture in countries engaged in fighting terrorism has persuaded the World Organisation Against Torture (OMCT) to create a new Working Group on ‘Torture and Terrorism’. The deliberations of the group at its inaugural meeting in Tunis earlier this month were extremely relevant to Pakistan.

The conference tone was set by Mokhtar Trifi, OMCT vice president from Tunisia, when he said that anti-torture activists saw almost daily how the legitimate fight against violent extremism was subverted to justify torture. “While no one is above the law,” he said, “no one is below the threshold of the law either, whatever the crime one is accused of”.

The members of the group, who were on the front lines of the ‘war against terrorism’ in Africa, Asia, Europe and Latin America, complained of facing increased public acceptance of torture in their countries. The delegate from the Gulf region spoke for the group when he said: “The biggest travesty is that states abuse the fight against terrorism to target human rights defenders, the very people we need to support the fight against violent extremists.” One would like to hope that the group’s recommendations will receive due consideration by Islamabad.

There is no denying that torture is endemic in Pakistan. The constitutional guarantee against torture is limited to prohibition of torture for extracting evidence and even this provision is not respected. Most of the people charged with a criminal offence are tortured till they ‘confess’, even to crimes they have not committed. The police know of no nonviolent methods of investigation/ interrogation. Pakistan........

© Dawn