No law or code of conduct against police torture
The torture and violence by Pakistani police towards innocent people is not a concealed aspect of the country’s history and the media, civil society activists and human rights organisation time and again unveiled the brutal face of these beasts in the police uniform.
The Pakistani police is among the most corrupt and brutal forces in the world due to its reliance on torture as an investigation tactic. Hundreds of innocent people lose their lives to illegal police detention and in the fake police encounters every year. In Pakistan the police are an organised mafia with strong political influence on the police officials and the loyalist in the force.
In 2010, more than 1441 people faced the worst police torture. The majority of them were innocent and the police play their negative role and get them involved in fake charges. The media highlighted the dark face of the police dark towards the masses and the horrible footage raised anti police sentiments among the society.
The police officials tried their best to defend themselves in the various talk shows but they failed as they cannot justify the wild torture of police on the prisoners and accused. After the massive campaign of media against the police torture in the country the judicial authorities joined in the action against a few incidents of ruthless police torture but it was just a formality, as the judiciary in Pakistan is trying to save it’s already worsen credibility and worth.
In Pakistan there is no law and code of conduct in which police torture should be called an illegal practice and the police authorities are legally bound to forbid the use of torture and violence on innocent people, prisoners, and accused. There is not even a single mention of torture in the entire Pakistan Penal Code (PPC) but the word that has been used in PCC is ‘Hurt’ so when there is no law and no section about torture how it can be possible to stop torture in the behaviour and attitude of Pakistani police. The Pakistani police stations and prisons have turned into the horrible ghost in the name of prisons on the planet earth.
According to the Convention Against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment of United Nation: Article 1 stated as: “For the purposes of this Convention, torture means any act by which severe pain or suffering, whether physical or mental, is intentionally inflicted on a person for such purposes as obtaining from him or a third person information or a confession, punishing him for an act he or a third person has committed or is suspected of having committed, or intimidating or coercing him or a third person, or for any reason based on discrimination of any kind, when such pain or suffering is inflicted by or at the instigation of or with the consent or acquiescence of a public official or other person acting in an official capacity. It does not include pain or suffering arising only from, inherent in or incidental to lawful sanctions.”
As there continuous violations on the part of Pakistan of the international law and human rights where police torture in concerned, Pakistan is violating the Convention Against Torture And Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment Act of the United Nation.
The inhuman behaviour towards the accused and the prisoners is a shameful act of the Pakistani authorities. The brutal attitude of police doesn’t even spare the politicians and celebrities in this country; they were also tortured and beaten in the reaction of damned political victimisation.
In Pakistan numerous failed efforts are made to reform the police but every time, except for the tall claims and the hollow jingles of the politicians and police officials that come in the shape of headlines in the newspaper, no one dares to change the mentality of police.
When asked a number of victims of police torture called it horrible. Muhammad Junaid a resident of Jaatli village near Rawalpindi said: “I came to Rawalpindi city for the purchasing of some goods for my small departmental store but some police constables asked me to prove my identity, in the meanwhile they took me to the nearest police station (Pirwadhai). They put me in the lockup without any crime or justification.” Junaid said that the police constables asked him for a bribe but when he refused to give them handsome money, they registered an FIR against him in which he was being charged for carrying Hashish. Jaunaid told that he was badly beaten for several days and was put in the illegal confinement for more than one week. He was tortured and his leg was injured. After three weeks when the family members came to know about this they rushed to the police station but no one listened to them.
There are several incidents on the record on a daily basis in which mostly the innocent people were badly trapped by the police machinery. A source in the notorious Punjab police told this correspondent on the condition of anonymity: “The Station House Officers (SHO’s) have to show the performance and to enhance his efficiency in front of the police high-ups that’s why they generally registered the cases against those people who are wandering late night in fake cases of possessing illegal weapon or carrying narcotics. The source said that it is not a problem for the police to put any innocent person behind the bars against any charges. It will be later decided by the court or bailiff that he is accused or innocent in that case.
Despite a ban on police torture made verbally there is no clause in the Pakistan Penal Code (PPC) that defines torture. The higher ups of the police are hesitant to accept this reality and there is no clarification of torture in Pakistan Penal Code. They have to accept that there is no law and there is a great urge of legislation on the police torture in Pakistan. When this correspondent contacted a number of senior officials serving in the police department they said that there is no authorisation of police torture on the public according to the Pakistan Penal Code.
There are several Non-Government Organisations who are working against the violence and especially on the torture phenomena of Pakistani police but no fruitful results has been observed from them so far. Despite millions of rupees funding to these NGO’s to eradicate violence from the police when this correspondent talked to a similar NGO working for the rights of prisoners here in Pakistan known as SACH, Struggle for Change, one of their senior staff member Miss Shazia said: “We are training police officials and constables to adopt the other soft tactics in the investigation and avoid physical or mental torture to the accused one.” She said that we are giving them awareness but that a lot of time is required to change their mentality and the methodology of investigations. Shazia said that the behaviour of the police is ruthless and really a challenge for the human rights organisations here in Pakistan.
Another ghastly face of Pakistan police is “Fake Encounters”. Every year there are scores of fake encounters in which the ‘criminal’ is killed by the police. In Punjab, the largest province of Pakistan by population there are fake police encounters on the special directions of top provincial authorities to the police.
It is pertinent to mention here that the sitting Chief Minister of Punjab Main Muhammad Sehbaz Sharif was criticised by the media and politicians for his fake encounter directions to the police authorities.
Malik Ghulam Mustafa a senior lawyer when asked said: “Use of torture by the police for gleaning facts or to contrive the otherwise innocent accused to confess is constitutionally disallowed everywhere in the modern-day world as it’s an affront to human dignity. Torture contravenes the inherent dignity of a person.”
He said, by torturing the accused, the police violate the fundamental rights enshrined in Article 4, 9 and 14 of the Constitution. Malik said, Pakistan has already signed the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) and the United Nation Convention Against Torture (CAT) and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (CAT) on April 17, 2008 and also pledged before the UN Human Rights Council to stop the menace of torture in Pakistan and rectify its laws according to the CAT. According to his point of view torture in any form has been prohibited under Article 5 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) and Article 7 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), Police order 2002 chapter XVII.
When approached to a renowned human rights activist in Pakistan, Saram Burney the head of Ansar Burney welfare trust international, he said: “Our basic motive is to fight against the police torture in the country.” He went on to say that they are giving legal consultancy to the innocent people who have been trapped by the police in to the heinous crimes and also worst tortured.” He said that there is still a lot work required for the sake of the rights of people to save them from the police barbaric violence.
Burney said that to blame the constitution and law for the police misconducts, negligence and wrong use of authority is actually to hide the real facts of the society. By adding he said that the justice system in the country should be empowered and by increasing the literacy rate we can get rid of all these sins.
There are several cases and incidents reported by the media and human rights organisation of sexual abuse to the prisoners in the police confiscation by the police personnel’s. There are numerous cases on the record, which has been also highlighted by the media in which the police personnel’s raped the females in the lockup and even in the prisons. There is fear among the females who involved in family disputes when they go to the police station as they aware of the atmosphere of the police stations in this country. Farzana Bibi, a human rights activist said: “How I can go to the police station they cannot spare any one. If I go for complain might be I can come back with some more troubles, as everything and wrong act could be expected by police constables.”
In Pakistan citizens it is a challenge and shameful act to move to the police station they are even afraid to talk to the policemen because of their reputation in the society. In short there is a lot of work regarding the legislation and the change of the behaviour of the policemen as well in the mood of the society. The human rights organisations can only get fruitful results against police torture when the masses raise their voices on national and international forums.
The writer is an Islamabad-based official of The Asian Human Rights Commission