Police officers charged with torture, but no law exists to prosecute
The victims were striped naked in public by the station head officer (SHO) and four other officials, of Bhawana police station and beaten with a wide leather strap, known as Chittar.
Each accused was punished with 30 hard lashes with full force and two of them fainted on the spot.
After this illegal punishments the accused were admitted to hospital on the orders of high officials of the province. The scene was watched by teenage girls and boys students of nearby schools. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cMO3Kwe8K20&feature=youtube_gdata
The victims were arrested on the charges of stealing rice from a truck load of rice and other minor crimes. At no time did the accused confessed to the police that they had stolen and, in fact, it was established later by the evidence that accused were not involved in the theft. The district police officer (DPO) Fayaz Sumbal told media personnel that the police officials involved in the incident were furious that relatives of the detained men complained that they had been falsely accused of robbery.
The officers of Bhowana police station are notorious for torturing the accused persons. SHO Abdur Razzaq is known as an ‘encounter specialist’.
Locals allege he beat the detained suspects daily at 11 pm. This is the same police which tortured Mr. Shafiq Dogar, chairperson of Star Welfare, for many days in moth of May 2009. An enquiry into Dogar’s torture was ordered by the chief justice of Lahore high court but nothing has happened. The deputy superintendent of police (DSP), Mohammad Akram was suspended briefly but soon he regained the same position.
The fact is that torture in custody is not a crime under Pakistani law.
Torture has never been criminalised by the state which provides impunity to the law enforcing authorities. The military and police are fully aware that there is no punishment for torture in custody, therefore; they consider that cruel and inhuman torture is a legal right.
The Pakistan Penal Code (PPC) does not specify the word torture but mentions “hurt” which mainly deals with a dispute between civilians. The torture by the state agents has no place in PPC. Thus the very law of the land gives impunity to state agents. Therefore these agents have no fear that they will be punished for torturing some one in custody.
When torture is not crime according to Pakistan law or PPC then booking the accused police officers in torture is just an attempt to make the people fool. Therefore, it is very obvious that accused police officials will not be tried for beating or lashing accused persons in public and causing severe injuries to them.
Another aspect of torture in custody is that army and other security agencies of armed forces are running their own torture cells in each and every city of Pakistan. To date no person from armed forces has been charged with torture. This encourages the police to engage in torture. Torture is used to obtain confession or for the purpose of extortion.
While Pakistan does not have any specific law relating to torture Article 14 (2) of the Constitution expressly prohibits the use of torture for extracting evidence.
Some argue that the provisions in Chapter XVI of the Penal Code (particularly Sections 339, 340 and 349) cover the aspect of torture. This however falls short of the international norms as prescribed in the Convention against Torture.