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Pakistani Government 'Disappears' Hundreds

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    Disappearances new form of abuse: HRCP By Jamal Shahid http://www.dawn.com/cgi-bin/dina.pl?file=top3.htm&date=20070209 ISLAMABAD, Feb 8: The Human Rights
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      Disappearances new form of abuse: HRCP
      By Jamal Shahid
      http://www.dawn.com/cgi-bin/dina.pl?file=top3.htm&date=20070209


      ISLAMABAD, Feb 8: The Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP) has
      accused the government and its security apparatus of exercising a
      `horrific pattern' of forced disappearances of its opponents, and
      described it as a `new form of human rights abuse' in the country.

      The commission's annual report for 2006 launched on Thursday described
      the forced disappearances `a highly disturbing trend', which was
      increasing at an alarming rate. Citizens across the country were being
      picked up by intelligence agencies and taken to be detained in secret
      locations while some had been handed over to the US, the report said.

      Spread over 340 pages, the report details the rights issues in 18
      separate categories, ranging from law and administration of justice to
      law and order situation, rape and other atrocities against women,
      rights of children, restrictions of political participation, rights of
      labour, and issues of health and environment.

      However, the report's real emphasis was on the deteriorating situation
      in Balochistan and Waziristan, the use of military to curb political
      and religious militancy, and abduction and disappearance of opponents,
      mainly from the violence-hit areas.

      According to the report, the trend of organised disappearances started
      around 2001 and since then at least 400 persons had gone missing.
      However, the commission feared the figure was only `the tip of the
      iceberg'.

      The report said people suspected of being involved in attacks on the
      president, the Baloch nationalist struggle and those struggling for
      the rights of Sindhi people were frequently targeted. The largest
      number of disappearances, it said, was reported in Balochistan.

      Prolonged and illegal detention and torture and humiliation of the
      detainees were growing problems, the report said.

      Condemning the breakdown of law and order, the HRCP chairperson Asma
      Jahangir said that most of the disappeared were not suspected
      militants but government opponents. "Torture of the missing persons is
      the rule rather than exception."

      She said that the HRCP had filed a petition on behalf of the families
      of the missing persons. "But many are too frightened to come forward
      and talk about their relatives kidnapped by intelligence agencies."

      HRCP's secretary-general Iqbal Haider said that despite public
      protests and demand by the Supreme Court of Pakistan, the whereabouts
      of hundreds of missing people still remained unknown.

      Sketching a depressing picture of the "unfortunate state of affairs",
      Mr Iqbal said there was no mechanism or institution to redress human
      rights abuses.

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