Sahiwal incident deeply troubling: HRCP

January 22,2019

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LAHORE: The Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP) has said that it is 'horrified' at the recent incident in which four individuals were killed by an elite force of the Punjab police, allegedly in a counter-terrorism operation.

In a statement issued here on Monday, HRCP said the incident is deeply troubling at several levels.

"The first is the alleged absence of any sign of due process. There is no question that the violence perpetrated by terrorist organisations must be eliminated. However, 'encounter killings' that rapidly resurface as 'extrajudicial murders' - once more and more facts emerge and are verified - simply cannot continue to be argued as a "necessary evil" to uphold the rule of law. Second, that this incident should initially have been brushed off as "collateral damage" is a dire sign of how high our tolerance for impunity - as a state and society - has risen. Third, the rate at which accounts of the incident have changed and the contradictions therein point to a distorted mechanism that betrays little coordination between the various branches of the state concerned. This needs to be rectified swiftly."

HRCP reiterates the need for investing heavily and sensibly in law enforcement agency reforms and training that will help minimise the incidence of 'encounter' killings. Equally, all law enforcement personnel as well as the public, the media and the people's elected representatives must be sensitised to the state's constitutional duty to ensure that no person should be "deprived of life or liberty save in accordance with the law".

"HRCP welcomes the Senate Standing Committee on Interior's demand for a judicial probe into the incident, and hopes that this will be conducted transparently and its recommendations made public."


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