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Cabinet panel on enforced disappearances meets


ISLAMABAD:

A cabinet committee – formed a day earlier – has asked its members to submit by the next week their inputs with regard to the phenomenon of enforced disappearances in the country.

A preliminary meeting of the Cabinet Committee on Enforced Disappearances was held at the Ministry of Law on Friday to look into the growing incidents of such cases.

The committee’s convener, Minister for Law Dr Farogh Naseem, urged all the participants to stick to the mandate given by the federal cabinet to the committee to figure out the reasons behind enforced disappearances and to submit recommendations to eradicate these occurrences.

He also grilled the police officials who attended the moot and directed the members to give their input with regard to causes of such incidents by the next week.

Federal Minister for Human Rights Dr Shireen Mazari, Parliamentary Secretary for Law and Justice, Maleeka Bukhari, Secretary Law Raja Naeem Akber, Islamabad Capital Territory (ICT) Director General Shafaq Hashmi and Inspector General Police (IGP) Amir Zulfiqar were present at the meeting.

Representatives of the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) and the Intelligence Bureau (IB) also attended the meeting. Adviser to the Prime Minister on Accountability Shahzad Akber also took part in the discussion by video link. The next meeting of the cabinet committee is expected to be convened next week.

The federal cabinet on Thursday constituted the seven-member committee under the law minister to investigate rising number of the cases of enforced disappearances. According to a notification issued by the Ministry of Interior, the committee would give recommendations on how to control these incidents.

The members included the law minister, minister for human rights, adviser to the PM on accountability and interior, the ICT’s chief commissioner and IGP and representatives of the ISI and the IB.

Last week, the International Commission of Jurists (ICJ) had regretted that the Commission of Inquiry on Enforced Disappearances (COIED) – formed by the PPP led federal government in 2011 – had failed to address the issue of entrenched impunity, leaving the victims and their loved ones without any redress.

The COIED was mandated to trace the whereabouts of missing persons and to identity individuals or organisations responsible for these disappearances.

A briefing paper on “Entrenching Impunity, Denying Redress: The Commission of Inquiry on Enforced Disappearances in Pakistan” regretted that although the COIED had traced the whereabouts of missing persons in a number of cases, there had been no apparent effort to hold culprits accountable.

The briefing paper provided an assessment of the performance of the COIED since its formation and evaluated the legal framework under which the commission operates in the light of international law and standards.

“This commission has failed in holding even a single perpetrator of enforced disappearance responsible in its nine years,” said Ian Seiderman, the ICJ legal and policy director.

“A commission that does not address impunity, nor facilitate justice for victims and their families, can certainly not be considered effective.” The COIED is headed by Justice (retd) Javed Iqbal.



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