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Custodial Killings-The Murder of Justice!

Once again a new case of allegedly custodial killing has come up before the people. The dead body was of MQM`s worker who, according to his family member, had been arrested by the law-enforcement agencies on February 3, 2014. According to MQM, a constitutional petition had also been filed in the Sindh High Court about his arrest, but they got the dead body, not the justice.

Unfortunately, this is not the first case at all; several similar incidents have been reported during the on-going targeted operation in Karachi. One of these incidents was the reported in the month December, 2013 when three tortured bodies with their hands and feet bound with pieces of rope were found near Super Highway Karachi. According to the SHO Gadap, “All three men were shot in the head execution-style. I seemed that they were brought there alive and later executed by pumping a single bullet in every man’s head”.

In the scenario where we have already found the mass graves in Baluchistan which are assumed to be of the missing persons allegedly picked by FC, will the complaints of custodial killings not further weaken the trust of people on our state?

As per the universally accepted laws, an accused is assumed to be innocent unless and until proved guilty in the court of law. Even in the case where an accused is proved guilty in the court, one cannot be deprived of his fundamental rights. The United Nations General Assembly Resolution 45/111 presents a major guiding document with respect to the treatment of prisoners. It states, “All prisoners shall be treated with inherent dignity and be valued as human beings”. According to the clause of Universal Declaration of Human Rights that objects the use of torture or any sort of violence upon a prisoner, “No one shall be subjected to torture or to cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment”. Similarly, the UN Covenant on Civil and Political Rights says, “All persons deprived of their liberty shall be treated with humanity and with respect for the inherent dignity of the human person”.

The former CJP Mr. Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry, while addressing a workshop in November 203 in Islamabad on “Prisoners Vulnerability-Lacking Awareness”, said, “Islam considers imprisonment as a case of last resort, yet the torture and inhuman treatment with the prisoners are completely against the injunctions of our religion.” “In Islam, it is instructed to treat the prisoner as a free individual with the exception of being confined to prison”, he also clarified.

It becomes very clear that all the above-stated references belong to the rights of the prisoners whose crimes have been proved and they have been convicted by the court. Consequently, it means the people who have only been accused will definitely have more rights and be treated as innocent as any other person of the society. However, totally in contrast to this universally accepted principle, accused are being killed without being trialed in the courts which is an open violation of international laws and the Constitution of Pakistan.

On behalf of our law-enforcement agencies, it is argued that courts do not punish the criminals and release them easily. On the other hand, the courts state that it is just because of poor prosecution of the police and Rangers who fail to prove their charges on the accused. Legally speaking, how can a judge convict and punish any accused just on the charge sheet of law-enforcement agencies unless he finds concrete and reliable proofs against him?

To tell the truth, the law-enforcement agencies need to improve their intelligence first so that they can arrest the genuine person instead of making random arrests. This is the most important principle that surely helps to gather and produce concrete evidences in the court against the real criminals. Since this rule is not being followed, our law-enforcement agencies have to face very awkward situations.  Due to the same reason, law-enforcement agencies have failed to prove their charges against the arrested persons, but the victims have come into the position to produce proofs against them. This is surely a point of concern for their heads.

Therefore, not only the law-enforcement agencies should revisit their approach in order to avoid so serious complaints, but their chiefs also need to put a strict control over their sub-ordinates. Further, if they receive any complaint like this, they must investigate it impartially and, if found guilty, give stern punishment to the culprits so that black sheep can be separated from the state institutions. Otherwise, people will start thinking like the father of an extra-judicially killed young man who said, in a TV interview,

“It is we who are responsible for the custodial killing of our son. Because we let the law-enforcement agencies take him with them. If we had not, he would be alive today.”

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