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Missing persons commission draws IHC ire over abject failure to fulfil mandate

11 Mar, 2022
CJ Minallah directed the additional AG to retrieve Justice (retd) Kamal Mansoor Alam's report from the Interior Ministry and it should be made public as the "enforced disappearances" is a serious matter of public concern. File photo
CJ Minallah directed the additional AG to retrieve Justice (retd) Kamal Mansoor Alam's report from the Interior Ministry and it should be made public as the "enforced disappearances" is a serious matter of public concern. File photo

The Commission for Inquiry on Enforced Disappearance has not submitted a single report or suggestion to the federal government against the process of missing citizens since its inception in 2011, the Islamabad High Court was informed on Friday.

The registrar of the commission informed the IHC regarding the same during a hearing of missing bloggers and journalist Mudassar Naru's case. IHC Chief Justice Athar Minallah headed the case, while Additional Attorney General Qasim Wadood appeared before the court.

CJ Minallah directed the additional AG to retrieve from the interior ministry the commission's report from the time when the commission was headed by Justice (retd) Kamal Mansoor Alam and it should be made public as the "enforced disappearances" is a serious matter of public concern.

The court also ordered the additional AG to provide copies of the commission's report to the defendant's lawyers.

At the onset of the hearing, CJ Minallah expressed ire on the statement of the commission's registrar and remarked that the body's main agenda was to stop "enforced disappearances" of the citizens. However, the commission had neither submitted any report to the government in the last 11 years not had it initiated any inquiry against those involved in it, he added.

At this, the commission's registrar informed the court that the body was responsible to issue production orders only and further proceedings did not fall under the ambit of the commission.

Additional AG Qasim Wadood told the court that at least 6,000 missing persons had been recovered in the past and the commission had submitted the report required by the court. Another report had also been submitted in the high court that included the process of establishment of the commission, its working and the laws related to the body, he added.

On February 14, the high court ordered to submit the commission's terms of reference (TORs) in the court.

During the course of Friday's hearing, CJ Minallah inquired who was behind the disappearance of the citizens who were found and asked the additional AG to read TORs of the commission.

The registrar responded that the body did not have TORs of the first commission headed by Justice (retd) Alam and the report prepared during his chairmanship of the body never came to surface.

The IHC chief justice inquired whether the commission ever registered a first information report against any accused involved in the enforced disappearance and whether it submitted any recommendations for doing so to the federal government.

He further asked the registrar about the contents of the report which was being submitted and noted that the commission was supposed to write to the federal government how to stop "enforced disappearances" of the citizens.

The registrar told the court that TORs of the missing persons' commission were not completed in the last 11 years and so far the body has issued 550 production orders in the missing persons cases.

At this, CJ Minallah remarked the main objective of the commission was to submit suggestions to the federal government, not only issue the production orders, and it did not do so in the last 11 years which was a big span of time.

Additional AG Wadood told the court about number of recoveries from two provinces. Out of 1,500 missing persons cases from Punjab, 1,200 had been resolved; of the 3,000 cases from Khyber Pakhtunkwa, at least 1,000 had been resolved.

The IHC chief justice expressed ire, saying the main objective of the commission was still unknown to the body. "It is to initiate legal proceedings against the people involved in the incident," he remarked.

Later, the court adjourned hearing of the case.

Mudassar Naru case

Mudassar Naru went missing in August 2018 while he was in Kaghan valley on vacation. He was last spotted near the Kaghan river, and many believe he may have fallen and drowned in the river. However, his body was never found. There was also speculation that he might have taken his own life - a claim rejected by his family.

According to Dawn.com, Naru’s family tried to register a first information report against “unidentified persons,” but the police refused to cooperate. A few months later, the journalist was spotted at a detention centre for ‘missing persons’ by one of his friends.