According to the country’s constitution, “no torture can be inflicted on anybody for extraction of evidence”. Police rules also restrict police officers from any kind of torture on citizens in police custody, and those indulging in such activities can be fined and even imprisoned for up to five years. What happens on the ground, however, is no secret.
There is a huge margin of improvement in police rules of 2002, for there is no definition of ‘torture’ and the difference between mental and physical torture is indistinguishable.
The United Nations passed the Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment, called the Torture Convention, in 1984. In 1987, the convention was enforced and for Pakistan it took 20 years to become a part of it in 2008 as a signatory. However, since then we have not been able to meet the basic requirements of the convention.
The Torture and Custodial Death (Prevention and Punishment) Act, 2022, was passed by parliament under which torture by public officials became a cognizable, non-compoundable and non-bailable offence. Apparently, it is a progress, but the problem will stay if the law is not enforced in letter and in spirit.
It is the responsibility of the authorities concerned to ensure that the law gets duly implemented and the perpetrators of torture in police custody are meted out the punishment they really deserve.