IHC says prime minister, cabinet responsible for recovery of missing persons

December 01, 2021

IHC chief justice asks Minister for Human Rights Shireen Mazari to take Mudasir Naro's children and family to the prime minister

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The Islamabad High Court. — IHC website

ISLAMABAD: The federal government has been instructed by the Islamabad High Court (IHC) to satisfy the family of missing journalist and blogger Mudasir Naro.

The court on Wednesday observed that it is the prime minister and the cabinet that are responsible for the recovery of missing persons.

Minister for Human Rights Shireen Mazari, Secretary Interior Naseem Khokhar, lawyer of the concerned family Usman Warraich, Additional Attorney General Qasim Wadood and Deputy Attorney General Syed Tayyab Shah appeared before the bench.

An opinion from Mazari was sought regarding payment of compensation to the victim's family from the pocket of the then chief executive of the country.

At the outset of the hearing, IHC Chief Justice Athar Minallah told Mazari that the court had summoned her because of the seriousness of the issue.

"The state is like a mother, but it is nowhere to be seen," the court observed.

For someone to have been kidnapped at the behest of the state is an extremely grave crime, Justice Minallah said.

The court noted that non-state actors also have a hand in enforced disappearances. "Someone will have to be held responsible," it noted further.

The court also remarked that "half of our lives were spent with non-democratic governments in power".

Mazari told the bench that the government had introduced legislation to stop such activities as it was part of the PTI manifesto.

The matter would be sent to the upper house soon, she said, adding that PM Imran Khan had a very clear stance on the issue.

The chief justice asked what the reaction of the state would be if a relative of a public office holder went missing.

The court observed that the wife of the missing citizen had died.

The chief justice said all law enforcement agencies were under the control of the federal government, adding that it was not a matter of summaries or reports.

The court said to the minister that it was the responsibility of the government to look after the children and satisfy the other family members of the missing person.

The chief justice asked Mazari to take the concerned family to the cabinet and to the prime minister.

She said that the prime minister would hear the family "but firstly we want to complete the process of payment of compensation".

She added that her government admits enforced disappearances are a serious crime.

The responsibility of missing persons falls on the shoulders of the prime minister and the cabinet, the court observed. It was noted that perhaps instead of the state, the prime minister and cabinet members should be asked to pay the compensation due so that this matter can be laid to rest once and for all.

If someone went missing in 2002 then the chief executive of that time should be held responsible, Justice Minallah said, adding that perhaps they should be asked to pay the compensation.

Mazari said former governments had taken no steps to stop such practices but the incumbent government was taking measures against enforced disappearances.

The additional attorney general requested the court for a week's time.

Mazari was asked to respond in the matter of compensation at the next hearing.

At this, the court adjourned hearing of the case till December 13.

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