Pakistan Abducts Own Citizens, Muzzles Rights Watchdog

Pakistan must address a catalog of human rights failings, including state-sponsored abductions and a death penalty that amounts to torture, but its national watchdog is muzzled, the U.N. Human Rights Committee said Thursday.

Human Rights Minister Kamran Michael defended Pakistan’s record before the committee earlier this month, but members of the committee said his delegation had given few responses to their questions and very general answers.

They were also concerned at a no-show by the chairman of Pakistan’s National Commission for Human Rights, who was allegedly barred from traveling to Geneva to meet them and was not able to probe wrongdoing, they said.

“The commission is prevented from fully cooperating with United Nations human rights mechanisms, cannot inquire into the practices of the intelligence agencies, and is not authorized to undertake full inquiries into reports of human rights violations by members of the armed forces,” the U.N. committee report said.

Pakistani officials in Islamabad could not be reached for comment on the committee’s findings.

At the top of a long list of human rights concerns were Pakistan’s renewed use of the death penalty, its blasphemy laws, and “enforced disappearances” and extrajudicial killings.

Enforced disappearances, seen in tribal areas and Baluchistan for the past 15 years, have become widespread across Pakistan, committee member Olivier de Frouville told reporters.

“This is an admitted fact, even within the country, that this is carried out by agents of the state,” he said, adding that the government’s own investigations were insufficient.

Secret detentions

A high number of people were allegedly in secret detention in military internment centers, the committee’s report said.

Killings were allegedly perpetrated by the police, military and security forces, but there was no law explicitly against such practices.

The committee also lambasted Pakistan’s widespread use of hanging since it lifted a…

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