LAHORE: The National Commission on Human Rights (NCHR) conducted its preliminary investigation into nearly 1,500 cases of torture reported by Justice Project Pakistan in just one district of Faisalabad.
Speaking at a press conference, NCHR chairman retired Justice Ali Nawaz Chowhan said that action would be taken against police officials involved in torture regardless of their ranks. He also emphasised the right to a fair trial for all citizens in any nature of crime.
Justice Chowhan and Director General of NCHR Aftab Alam conducted the preliminary investigation, where victims of police torture presented their testimonies.
Out of a sample of 1,867 medico-legal certificates, 1,424 cases of abuse were reported in the research presented by the JPP. These cases were compiled by a government-appointed district standing medical board in Faisalabad during 2006 and 2012. According to the data, out of the 1,424 cases, 58 of the victims were children and over 134 were women.
The report stated that out of these 143 victims were suspended, 464 were forced to witness others being tortured, 15 were subjected to sleep deprivation, 11 were exposed to extreme heat or cold and 114 were sexually abused. The report also finds that 61 percent of women were sexually abused and 81pc were subjected to culturally inappropriate practices.
The initial inquiry by the commission will be followed by formal proceedings next week. The commission will also summon police officials and representatives of the district administration to reply to the allegations.
JPP Executive Director Sara Belal said torture took place at the hands of the police was no longer news, because for too long, too many perpetrators had never been held to account. She said the NCHR had taken the crucial first step towards making this abhorrent practice morally, politically and legally unacceptable.
“We hope this will inspire more victims to come forward to claim the justice that they have awaited for years,” she remarked.