On International Day of the Victims of Enforced Disappearances, the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP) expresses serious concern over the woeful track record of the Commission of Inquiry on Enforced Disappearances, including the credibility of its chairperson and its continued inability—or unwillingness—to hold the perpetrators of this heinous practice accountable.
HRCP notes with alarm that, in the last 10 years, the geographical spread of disappearances has grown, now extending across all provinces and territories, while the profile of victims has expanded to include not only political activists but also journalists and human rights defenders.
While the recently proposed bill against enforced disappearances is a good law on paper and at least acknowledges the severity of the situation, HRCP is concerned that the bill lacks concrete and practicable mechanism for identifying and holding perpetrators responsible and does not provide for reparations to victims and their families. In addition, until and unless all state agencies can be held collectively responsible under the law—rather than assigning responsibility to individuals alone—the mere existence of the law itself will not curb enforced disappearances. HRCP also calls on the judiciary to fulfill its responsibility to enforce citizens’ fundamental rights and show greater resolve in demanding accountability for enforced disappearances.
Speaking at a seminar organized by HRCP earlier today, chairperson Hina Jilani said that ‘even one enforced disappearance’ was ‘one too many, adding that she was especially concerned that the fallout of the crisis in Afghanistan could lead to an uptick in disappearances among progressive voices speaking out against the Taliban regime and Pakistan’s tacit support for it.
In conjunction with other civil society organizations, HRCP held demonstrations against enforced disappearances in Islamabad, Karachi, Hyderabad, Peshawar, and Multan.