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Pakistan: Conference on "Combating Torture in Pakistan" - Government urged to improve situation

last updated Oct 25, 2011

International and national human rights experts, legal and forensic experts and police and jail officials attended a three-day conference in Lahore on “Combating Torture in Pakistan”. The round-table was organised by the Democratic Commission for Human Development (DCHD). The participants analysed the current legislation and discussed ways to improve the situation by developing coordinated preventive mechanisms against custodial abuse and by awareness-raising among the population.

Dr Manfred Nowak, director of the Ludwig Boltzmann Institute of Human Rights in Vienna and former UN Special Rapporteur on Torture, attended the conference together with two experts of his team. He emphasised the need of full implementation the Convention against Torture (CAT). Despite the ratification last year, Pakistan still has no specific crime of torture. “Pakistan has to ensure that its legal system dealing with arrested and detained persons is reviewed periodically, transforming it into a torture-free system and focusing on effective independent investigation about the complaints of torture,” he said. Nowak further stressed the importance of the ratification of the Optional Protocol to the Convention against Torture (OPCAT).

Dr Khuram Solheil Raja, a forensic expert, argued strongly for the creation of forensic and DNA laboratories at district level.

A speaker of the Ministry of Human Rights emphasised the government’s commitment to the criminalisation of torture and pointed to the withdrawal of several reservations it had on the CAT. The General Secretary of the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan IA Rehman remained sceptical to the government’s efforts and stressed that the state itself was the biggest perpetrator of torture and that the detention of thousands of people under anti-terrorism laws violated the CAT.

Express Tribune: Torture: Govt urged to comply with UN convention

Further sources: Business Recorder Lahore, 23.10.2011; Daily Times, 23.10.2011

Pakistan country profile