Denying the undeniable: Enforced disappearances in Pakistan
22 July 2008
- Amina Masood Janjua, July 2008
The last time Amina Masood Janjua saw her husband, Masood Janjua, was on 30 July 2005 when he left home to meet his friend Faisal Faraz. Pakistani security forces apprehended both men on that day while on a bus journey to another city.
Since then, Pakistan’s government has been holding them in secret without charge or trial, repeatedly denying any knowledge of their whereabouts despite eyewitness testimony as to their detention.
Masood Janjua and Faisal Faraz are among hundreds of victims of enforced disappearance in Pakistan, including children as young as nine and ten years old. Many of them were detained after the attacks in the USA on 11 September 2001, their detentions justified in the name of the US-led “war on terror”.
The practice, rare before 2001, then spread to activists involved in pushing for greater ethnic or regional rights, including Baloch and Sindhis.
Despite undeniable evidence, the government of President Pervez Musharraf consistently denied subjecting anyone to enforced disappearances.
In the report Denying the undeniable, enforced disappearances in Pakistan, Amnesty International uses official court records and affidavits of victims and witnesses of enforced disappearances to confront the Pakistani authorities with evidence of how government officials obstructed attempts to trace those who have “disappeared.”
New government brings opportunity for change
The report urges the newly elected government of Pakistan – which has pledged to improve Pakistan’s human rights record - to end the policy of denial, investigate all cases of enforced disappearance and hold those responsible to account.
“By holding people in secret detention the government of Pakistan has not only violated their rights, but also failed in its duty to charge and try those suspected of involvement in attacks on civilians”, said Sam Zarifi, Amnesty International’s Asia Pacific director.
Crucially, Pakistan’s new government must reinstate deposed judges who had previously been investigating disappearance cases and were deposed by President Pervez Musharraf when he imposed a state of emergency in the country in November 2007.
Complicity of other governments
The report also calls on other governments - most notably the USA - to ensure that they are not complicit in and do not contribute to or tolerate the practice of enforced disappearance in Pakistan.
Many of those unlawfully held at the US detention centre in Guantánamo Bay, and those who have been held in secret CIA custody were arrested in Pakistan. Others were unlawfully transferred from Pakistan to countries where they faced torture and other ill treatment.
Many people who have been secretly held in detention centres in Pakistan say they were interrogated by Pakistani intelligence agencies, but also by foreign intelligence agents.
Pakistan: Denying the Undeniable: Enforced Disappearances in Pakistan
Date Published: 23 July 2008
In 2006 the Supreme Court took up regular hearings of petitions filed on behalf of Pakistan's 'disappeared'. However, in November 2007, Pervez Musharraf imposed a state of emergency and deposed the majority of judges. Since the elections in February 2008, not much has improved for the “disappeared” or their families. The coalition members have failed to agree on when and how to bring back the deposed justices. Amnesty International calls on the new government to act now to end this grave human rights violation.