Responding to reports that human rights defender Idris Khattak, who was forcibly disappeared by Pakistan’s authorities more than two years ago, has been declared guilty of treason under the Official Secrets Act (OSA) and faces a 14-year prison sentence, Thyagi Ruwanpathirana Amnesty International’s Deputy South Asia Director, said:
“Idris Khattak’s family and lawyer are being kept in the dark by the Pakistani authorities about the exact status of his case and reported conviction, violating the right to fair trial and due process and making it impossible for them to plan any legal recourse.
“If his conviction is confirmed, it will be the culmination of a shameful two-year process that has been unjust from start to finish. Since being bundled into a car in 2019, Idris Khattak has been kept in an unknown location. Despite being a civilian, he was tried by a military court in a trial that took place in complete secrecy. Few details about the case against him have been disclosed and, according to his lawyer, the proceedings were deeply flawed.
“We urge Pakistan’s authorities to immediately provide details of the case to the family, give him access to lawyers, and bring Idris Khattak before an ordinary civilian court to rule on the lawfulness of his arrest and detention. This case plainly demonstrates why enforced disappearances must, once and for all, be put to an end. It’s time the authorities lifted the veil of secrecy shrouding the trial and his whereabouts.”
According to Idris Khattak’s lawyer, he has only been allowed to meet his client three times. On each occasion, they were filmed, accompanied by an army officer, and were not permitted to speak in Pashto – their native language. An earlier application for the trial to take place in a civilian court was rejected by the military court, following on from a similar rejection by the Peshawar High Court in January 2021.