NCHR proposes legislation to curb police torture

ISLAMABAD: The National Commission for Human Rights (NCHR) has recommended legislation for prohibition of torture by police and called for strict action against officials found involved in inhuman treatment of detained or arrested people.

“The law to be enacted must comply with international obligations, including the Convention against Torture. The law must define and criminalise ‘torture’ in the way as mentioned in the Convention.

“The law needs to emphasise that torture is a criminal offence punishable with imprisonment,” says the NCHR inquiry report on police torture in Faisalabad district from 2006 to 2012.

The report says an officer liable for prosecution should be suspended from service until the conclusion of the case. “If it is found that the officer is guilty, they will be stripped of their benefits as a government servant and will forthwith not be allowed to pursue a career in any capacity in the government.

“The fact of their conviction and removal from service will be issued in the gazette as a method of informing government functionaries of their dismissal and reasons,” it adds.

It says the law should also elaborate as to who will be in charge of investigation and prosecution.

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“The standard of proof will be beyond reasonable doubt and is to comply with the requirements of the Qanoon-e-Shahadat… If victim of torture is being investigated in another crime, an independent third party (to exclude said police station) should be liable to review the said offence,” it adds.

It says the law should state the punishments that will be awarded in view of the existing laws in the Pakistan Penal Code. The scope of who can be prosecuted under this law should include all government servants and include torture and maltreatment of other government servants.

The report says the case in hand is one such example wherein the police in Faisalabad district have been accused of committing torture and other forms of cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment in 1,424 cases during 2006-12.

An NCHR team, headed by Justice (retd) Ali Nawaz Chowhan who is the commission’s chairman, commenced public hearing in Faisalabad on May 28 last year. The purpose of this hearing was to record the opening statement of the complainant as well as testimonies of victims.