Pakistan: Authorities must investigate whereabouts of missing political activists
Update: Human Rights defender Gulalai Ismail was released after a 40 hour arbitrary detention by Pakistani law enforcement agencies in Islamabad. She was returned to her family by 12:30 am, 7 February.
Responding to the news from Pakistan that three political activists and one other person have been disappeared over the last few days, Rabia Mehmood, Amnesty International’s South Asia Researcher, said:
“It is extremely alarming to see reports of at least four political activists and one other who have been disappeared over the last few days. The Pakistani authorities must immediately launch an independent investigation to determine the fate and whereabouts of the missing people. If they are in state custody, authorities must either release them or produce them in the court immediately and charge them with a recognizable criminal offence.
“While the Pakistan government is amending the Penal Code to make enforced disappearances a criminal offence, they must also take urgent measures to address this egregious human rights violation and bring all those responsible to justice in fair trials.
“In some parts of the country, people forcibly disappeared are languishing in detention while their relatives are left without any information on their fate and whereabouts. Pakistani authorities must put an end to this cruel practise.”
One of the four people who disappeared over the last week was released today.
Enforced disappearances are a longstanding problem in Pakistan. According to the country’s own Commission of Inquiry on Enforced Disappearances, there are more than 1,800 unresolved cases where the fate and whereabouts of the individuals remain unknown. According to the UN Working Group on Enforced or Involuntary Disappearances, they have received more than 700 urgent appeals regarding enforced disappearances in Pakistan.
Victims of enforced disappearances in Pakistan include political activists, students, human rights defenders, lawyers, journalists, members of religious groups and various ethnic minorities.