Amnesty urges Pakistan authorities to end forced disappearances

Islamabad, Nov 22 (EFE).- The Pakistani authorities must end the practice of enforced disappearances, according to a report by the nonprofit Amnesty International (AI) on Monday.

AI stressed enforced disappearances not only violate human rights, but also impact the affected families’ mental and physical health, financial status, and security, besides leading to stigma and social isolation.

In its report “Living Ghosts,” the human rights group documented the impact of forced disappearances on the affected families in Pakistan.

Amnesty underlined that it was a crime under international law when state agents falsely denied holding an individual or refused to provide information concerning their situation.

A spokesperson for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs declined to comment when contacted by EFE about the report.

Although cases of forced disappearances have been reported since the mid-1980s, the country’s intelligence services have been regularly practicing it since the so-called “War on Terror” that began in 2001 with the invasion of Afghanistan after the 9/11 attacks.

The intelligence services have been targeting human rights defenders, political activists, students, and journalists, and the fate of hundreds of victims remain unknown, according to the report.

Amnesty recalled that a proposed amendment to outlaw enforced disappearance has been delayed for more than two and a half years. Moreover, the proposed reforms in the Penal Code of Pakistan to end the practice do not conform with international human rights law and best practices.

“Enforced disappearance is a cruel practice that has caused indelible pain to hundreds of families in Pakistan over the past two decades,” said AI South Asia’s acting researcher Rehab Mahamoor.

He added that the “authorities must immediately disclose the fate and whereabouts of all victims to their families and release those still being held.”

Amnesty said it spoke to families of 10 people who were abducted by security services, and each of the members were facing stress-related health issues including high blood pressure, cardiac conditions, and gastrointestinal illnesses.

The affected families also suffered financial consequences as those missing were the main source of income for them.

In three cases, the children of those disappeared had been forced to drop out of school due to the loss of family income or stigma.

The rights watchdog also interviewed victims of forced disappearance, including Inaam Abbasi, who was held for 10 months after being abducted in August 2017.

The physical torture during captivity left him with a host of health issues, including chronic joint pain, high blood pressure and suspected post-traumatic stress disorder, which are often triggered by routine incidents such as the sound of a doorbell.

“I believe that someone has come to take me away again,” Inaam told AI.

The Commission of Inquiry on Enforced Disappearances said in its monthly October report that it has documented 8,191 cases of enforced disappearances since its it was set up in 2011.

Some 37 of these cases were in October alone, and 2,267 cases remain unresolved. EFE


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