Police brutality

Police brutality in Haripur recently led a 28 year old to take his life, in a much talked about torture case in the media. The man’s only fault was that he was the brother of a robbery suspect.  The police took him into custody when they could not trace his brother and tortured him so, that he eventually resorted to committing suicide.

Earlier this month in Rawalpindi, a similar case of police torture emerged where a 17-year-old, Imtiaz, was detained along with six other youngsters on charges wondering in an elite area late night. The six boys were freed by police after taking bribe whereas, Imtiaz was kept in illegal detention as police demanded PKR 50,000 bribe from the boy for his release. The boy denied the demand, saying his father is a poor hand cart-owner and he cannot pay such a hefty amount. He was mercilessly tortured.

According to Individualland and Open Society Foundation report, around 15000 suspects were taken into police, locked up or shifted to private torture cells in last 14 years. The Human Rights Commission of Pakistan reports that poorest of the poor and marginalised are the most frequent victims of police torture.

Pakistan has ratified the United Nations ‘Convention Against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment’ in 2010. Five years down the road, nothing has changed on the ground.

Interrogation to collect details about a case can be achieved without manhandling and torture by the police, which is a breach of basic human rights. Given the torture cases, barely lead to convictions, law-enforcement agencies can instead invest in forensic investigators and psychologists to collect information, if there is a comittement in ratifying basic human rights for all civilians.

But it's a shame that like colonial times, ‘investigation’, ‘remand’ and ‘evidence’ still remain the terms that are synonymous with torture in our criminal justice system. Land of the free, it is!

2138 hours
Monday 28 September 2015

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