September 23, 2016

UNPO Contributes to UN Report on Enforced and Involuntary Disappearances, Highlighting Plight of Baloch and Sindh people

Photo Courtesy of Prachatal 2016 @Flickr

On 12 September 2016, the Working Group on Enforced and Involuntary Disappearances (WGEID) transmitted to the UN Human Rights Council a follow-up to a previous report, which included recommendations and information on the situation of enforced and involuntary disappearances in Pakistan and Congo and had been issued following their missions in 2012. UNPO is delighted to be among the contributors to this follow-up report, which includes 23 references to our recommendations, information and expertise on the topic. UNPO’s contribution focused on the situation of the Baloch and Sindh people in Pakistan.

An enforced or involuntary disappearance occurs when a person is secretly abducted or imprisoned with some involvement of government officials, at least in the form of acquiescence. This is then followed by a refusal to acknowledge the fate of the individual, entirely placing the individual outside the protection of the law. Enforced and involuntary disappearances are considered by many among the most severe human rights violations, in that they violate several interconnected rights. Not only violating an individual’s right to justice and a fair trial, but also several international human rights agreements, the right to be free from arbitrary detention and to not be subjected to torture, degrading treatment or inhumane detention conditions. This problem has been plaguing Pakistan for years, with thousands of people being secretly detained and, in some cases, murdered.

The report focuses on the situation in Pakistan and the Democratic Republic of the Congo, following up on recommendations the WGEID had written after its mission in 2012. Among other issues, the report highlights the plight of the people of Balochistan and Sindh, both members of UNPO, among the most targeted by preventive detentions used by the government to suppress and intimidate any critic or dissent. Balochistan is the region that is most affected by this phenomenon, as can be seen through statistics: in 2015 at least 8363 Baloch were arrested with absolutely no information being disclosed on their identity, location or charges, and only 463 persons were actually reported to have forcefully disappeared. Alongside this, “kill and dump” operations remain a harsh reality where not only are people secretly abducted but then murdered and their mutilated bodies abandoned in places unbeknownst to anyone. In fact, upon the opening of an investigation, families are consequently threatened or intimidated, meaning that many cases end up going unreported. However, most importantly, UNPO’s recommendations point to how there has been no significant improvement of the situation since the previous report. The Pakistani government has not encouraged any visits from UN bodies and special rapporteurs or shown any move towards the ratification of the International Convention for the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearance, thus showing their reluctant stance to cooperate or take any action towards this urgent problem.

The WGEID, as well as the Commission of Inquiry on Enforced and Involuntary Disappearances dedicate themselves entirely to this issue and with this report outline clearly their commitment to aid the Baloch and Sindh people. UNPO’s recommendations and information were referenced 23 times in the report, making UNPO an important contributor to this year’s follow-up report. UNPO is delighted that our research is being taken into account and glad to see the plight of the Baloch and Sindh people into the spotlight and looks forward to working together with the WGEID in the future.

To read this report by the WGEID click here