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Call for criminalizing state torture

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By Inayat Amir

The Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP) has called upon the state to criminalize torture and make legislations for its prevention.

On International Day in Support of Victims of Torture, the HRCP said that neither a state of war nor an order from a superior authority justified torture which hurts the very foundation of the rule of law.

The rights body regretted that the Torture and Custodial Death (Prevention and Punishment) Bill has not been passed by the relevant legislative body despite rigorous efforts.

“Such a marked delay in turning this bill into an act of legislation only sets us back further since the bill not only provides a comprehensive definition of torture that is lacking in the Pakistan Penal Code, but also empowers the National Commission for Human Rights to investigate cases of torture,” a statement issued by the body said.

HRCP urged that the petition against internment centers, pending since 2019, be heard by the Supreme Court on priority basis, and that such legal systems that enable torture be dismantled and transformed.

It said “Allegations of custodial killings and torture in detention centers, police lockups and prisons abound; yet unfortunately, most instances of torture remain invisible. Torture is not only underreported but also difficult to prove in medical reports as has been noted in various credible studies carried out on the subject. Hence the complete impunity for torture.”

The apex rights body vowed to stand with the victims of torture and demanded that the state provide reparations to them and hold the perpetrators strictly accountable to end this culture of torture and renew the trust between law enforcement agencies and citizens.

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