HRW urges Pakistan to end enforced disappearances “once and for all”

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Human Rights Watch (HRW) has urged Pakistan and its Prime Minister Imran Khan to end the abuse of enforced disappearances once and for all.

In a statement Patricia Gossman, the Associate Asia Director of Human Rights Watch, has said that Imran Khan’s “meeting with families of people who had been forcibly disappeared was an important step toward addressing this serious and longstanding issue. He now needs to follow up on his pledge to end this abuse once and for all.”

It added: “Pakistani authorities, including law enforcement agencies and the criminal justice system, have long failed to demonstrate the political will to end enforced disappearances. Prime Minister Khan’s promises offer the victims’ families a glimmer of hope, but much more needs to be done.”

Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan met with a three-member representative committee of the families of the Baloch missing persons on last week in Islamabad.

In the meeting Imran Khan reiterated his promise to criminalize enforced disappearance. The Baloch families, however, said that the premier only gave them assurance and promises, nothing more. 

Nasrullah Baloch, Sammi Deen Baloch and Seema Baloch met PM Imran Khan on 18th March 2021

Earlier in February, the families of the Baloch missing persons held a week-long sit-in protest in the federal capital Islamabad, demanding the release of their loved ones and an end to enforced disappearances in Balochistan. The families asked the Pakistani prime minister to personally visit and assure them that their demands will be met, otherwise they would not end their protest. 

Later the Pakistani Human Rights Minister Shireen Mazari met with the Baloch families and conveyed a message from the premier that he will personally meet with the protestors in March. With this promise, the Baloch families ended their protest and returned home.

But after last week’s meeting with Imran Khan the families of the Baloch missing persons were not quite satisfied. They said that the prime minister gave them assurance and promises and nothing more. They said that they have handed over the list of the missing persons in Balochistan to Khan. 

In its statement on Monday HRW urged Pakistan not only take action on pending cases but investigate and appropriately prosecute those responsible to prevent future disappearances.

“International human rights law strictly prohibits enforced disappearances, the detention of an individual in which the state denies holding the person or refuses to provide information on their fate or whereabouts.  In addition to the grave harm to the person, enforced disappearances cause continuing suffering for family members,” the statement by HRW stated.

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