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syed kamal hussain shah
By syed kamal hussain shah
Abbottabd International Day of torture victims

ABBOTTABAD: The media fraternity here on Friday asked the govt of Pakistan to honor belated international commitment by incorporating the provisions of United Nation Convention Against Torture (UNCAT) in its criminal justice system without further delay otherwise the policy of systematic delay could possibly expose the country to global criticism and trade loss. This was the gist of a dialogue held in connection with International Day in Support of Torture Victims, that the Human Development Organization (HDO) has arranged at Abbottabad Press Club. Editors, bureau chiefs and correspondents of different local and national news papers and TV channels were in attendance on this occasion. Speaking on this occasion Muhammad Sadaqat, a freelance journalist and human rights activist, said that Pakistan has ratified UNCAT during June 2010 promising to revamp its criminal justice system in a way that the use of torture is declared as offense and the victims of custodial abuses are made entitled for physical and psycho social rehabilitation. However he lamented that with the passage of almost seven years, the govt has failed to take serious step towards fulfilling the commitment it had made with the United Nations.
He said that the custodial abuses were rampant in Pakistan despite the fact the UNCAT, Constitution of Pakistan and some other international instruments of human rights prohibited detention related mistreatment in the process of criminal investigation. He also referred some reported torture cases in support of his arguments that how the law enforcement agencies fully rely on primitive method of torture instead of using scientific tools for collection of evidence during investigation of a criminal activity. While sharing the clinical findings of some of the torture survivors he also listed some major physical, psychological and social impacts of custodial maltreatment on individuals, families and over all society.
Mr Sadaqat claimed that due to non-compliance of provisions of UNCAT Pakistan's official delegation had to face the ire from the United Nation's Committee Against Torture which met to review the Pakistan's compliance of UNCAT during its recent siting in December 2016. He said that the delaying tactics by the govt, have several ramifications that include international criticism and withdrawal of GSP plus status that the EU had given to Pakistan on the condition of implementation of UN's 27 conventions and protocols including the UNCAT. Shahid Chowdary Editor Daily Mahasib and president Abbottabad Press Club said that the journalists have a key role to play in protecting the citizens from excesses of law enforcement agencies for which they need to develop their capacities on investigative reporting. "The complaints of police torture and its torture cells are common but the culture of lack of follow up deprive the victims of their right", he said. He said that apart from international binding under UNCAT, the constitution of Pakistan itself provide safeguards to the citizens against the custodial abuses so it was incumbent on the sitting govt to introduce scientific methods of investigation instead because the method of torture has failed to control the ratio of crime from the society. He also attributed the ever increasing rate of acquittal of accused from the court of law to the poor and torture oriented investigation. Sardar Shafique, editor daily Itehad, Iqbal Saghir news editor Daily Mahasib, Haroon Tanoli, Saqib Khan, Syed Kamal Shah and Mir Muhammad Awan were among those who took part in the dialogue.
Earlier Niamat Gul the field coordiantor of Human Development Organization (HDO), briefed the participants on the importance of June 26, the UN's International Day in Support of Torture Victims, adding that UN's Convention Against Torture was came in to force on June 26 1987 worldwide and the purpose of this Convention was to protect the detainees from torture and other cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment or punishment. He asked the participants not to ignore the victims and support them for returning to normal life as leaving them untreated could lead to physiological and psychological complications. He also shared the data that his organization has collected about the survivors of torture.
It may be added that Jun 26 is observed globally under the aegis of United Nation and the civil society organizations arrange different programs including matches, painting and photo exhibitions, theatrical and musical performances, seminars, dialogues and rallies to show their solidarity with the survivors of torture.
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