Pakistan: Justice Providers Disregard Missing Persons Issues

Asia Human Rights
September 21, 2017
Reproduced with Permission
Asian Human Rights Commission

Voice for Baloch Missing Persons (VBMP) is a non-political organization. It initiated campaigning to recover Enforced Disappeared Persons in Balochistan. As an organization, VBMP set its parameters to work within the State's constitutional limits. Everything is done in a peaceful manner to gain their objectives. Missing Persons' cases are taken to the Supreme and High Courts of Pakistan. The VBMP conducted protest rallies in various cities. It embarked on an unprecedented long march from Quetta to Karachi, and then to Islamabad which covered thousands of kilometres. They established a token Hunger Strike Camp to give voice to the Missing Persons of Balochistan. Through this camp, relatives of the suffering families have been protesting consecutively for 2808 days.

The VBMP believes that the Balochistan issue is, as expected, political. It can be settled through the political process, but can get more complicated if dealt with militarily. Past practices corroborate this stance that military operations in Balochistan worsened the situation instead of bringing peace. Repeated apologies to Baloch by Federal Administrators over army operations confirm the wrongness of this method. Pakistani leaders confessed openly that Balochistan was mistreated and is lagging behind in all fields of life. Rather than reparation, State Authorities are continuing military offensives, resulting in an unending series of human rights violations. In operation-affected areas, people are forcibly displaced with many towns evacuated by the military. On the other hand, enforced disappearances and discarded mutilated bodies along the roadside, continues. It is a fact, that anywhere armed forces conduct operations, incidents of human rights violation occur. In addition, in such circumstances there are certainly breaches of the Law and the Constitution. The interminable military operations in Balochistan make this area a place of critical human rights violations.

Regrettably, the saga of Baloch Missing Persons spans years-but this human rights issue has not been resolved. Cases of missing persons were prosecuted in the Supreme Court and the High Court. Justice, however, was not delivered to the aggrieved families. The cause was that administrative departments did not implement Court decisions on the ground. Government Institutions continue to forcibly disappear Baloch Political Workers as well as persons from other walks of life. Many missing persons have been inhumanly killed with their mutilated bodies dumped in deserted areas. The VBMP constantly receives reports from victims' families about enforced disappearances and extra-judicial killings in Balochistan.

The Balochistan government has admitted that hundreds of people have been arrested under the Pakistan Protection Ordinance (PPO) between 2010-2017. Details of those detained were never provided. The discussed Constitutional Ordinance includes provision of information on any detainee after being enforced. State Forces are violating the Law and the Constitution as they are not abiding by the points inscribed in PPO. The VBMP opposed PPO in its initial stage because it gives full impunity to State Forces. They can engage in any behaviour against human rights without any checks or constraints. Once again, all facts of the past about the Balochistan issue are being put aside. It is being dealt with militarily instead of using the political process causing an ongoing, unrelenting series of basic human rights violations.

The Government, on both federal and provincial levels, has disregarded the Baloch Missing Persons issue. Furthermore, it has not worked on the recommendations of the Working Group on Enforced or Involuntary Disappearances (WGEID). This is an international organization whose recommendations were compiled in 2016 and sent to the Government of Pakistan.

The Government's Commission has failed to find any missing persons and put a halt to the dumping of mutilated bodies in deserted places. The VBMP expressed its reservations before the Supreme Court about the afore-mentioned mentioned Commission. It prejudicially sides with Government Institutions, marring the cases of Baloch Missing Persons. Rather than providing justice for suffering families, it has created an impediment to their legal pursuits. An appeal was made by the VBMP to the Supreme Court to dissolve the Government Commission on Missing Persons and constitute another body headed by an in-service Judge of the Supreme Court. At that time, the Court made assurances that it would give cognisance to the request, but no initiative has been taken as yet. At the Supreme Court, the Missing Persons cases were re-numbered after a lapse of a year of hearings. These types of acts are a denial of justice for families of the Baloch Missing. The Baloch Missing Persons cases are undecided at the High Court level and expediency is required for their settlement.

The political and human rights organizations did not heed the Baloch Missing Persons issue as it stands. The VBMP officials and the victims families' are dismayed by Government Institutional efforts to dissuade them from their right of legal process granted them by the State Constitution. Unbelievable in this 21st century, the people of Balochistan are denied their Constitutional rights and the rights of a Human Being.

The VBMP, with consent of the Missing Persons' families, has sent 41 cases to the upper house of the Senate. It was processed through the Balochistan's Director of Ministry of Justice. Copies were delivered to the National Commission for Human Rights (NCHR) and Senator Jhanzaib Jamaldini, member of the Senate's standing committee for human rights. The Authorities made assurances that the issue would be brought to the Senate floor in an appropriate way. No development has been seen regarding these cases.

The National Commission for Human Rights (NCHR) was asked by the VBMP to visit areas affected by military operations in Balochistan. Intentionally it was for fact-finding and compiling a fair report about prevailing circumstances. This body was also invited to examine the evidence provided in Missing Persons cases at the Supreme Court. The NCHR has not formed any taskforce for the discussed purpose, though the head of organization pledged to do so.

The Voice for Baloch Missing Persons (VBMP) appealed to the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan. They asked HRCP's officials to visit Balochistan on a humanitarian basis--form a taskforce comprising human rights activists, journalists and international organizations' representatives. They should do fact-finding in the areas affected by military operations. Ultimately, the designated team, after a thorough study of the Balochistan situation, compile a transparent report and expose to the world the reality of this severely disturbed region.

Demands of VBMP:

The writer is the Chairperson of Voice of Baloch Missing Persons, he can be approached at: