Essay On Police Reforms In Pakistan Face

Summary

I have no hope of getting justice in this crooked system.

—Umar Daraz, Karachi, January 2016

How do you expect us to recover stolen items from hardened criminals? Do you think they will agree if we say, ‘Be nice to us and return what you stole?’

—Police officer, details withheld, Pakpattan, November 2014

My staff and I are expected to be on duty 24 hours a day. We are perpetually exhausted…. How can you expect people to work under such conditions and not crack?

—Police officer, details withheld, Pakpattan, November 2014

On July 12, 2010, Allah Rakha’s son died before his eyes, shot dead by police. Neither side disputes that officers killed Shahbaz, 24, on that day. What they do disagree upon are the circumstances in which he died and the reasons that police fired that day. According to Allah Rahka, Shahbaz was unarmed and the police shot him in cold blood. The police say they were chasing criminal suspects and fired in self-defense after Shahbaz shot at them. More than six years later, Allah Rakha said he still waits for justice:

There are many other witnesses to his killing… Not only have the police killed my son, they have also sullied his name by making it seem as if he was a criminal. He was not a criminal.

Public surveys and reports of government accountability and redress institutions show that the police are one of the most widely feared, complained against, and least trusted government institutions in Pakistan, lacking a clear system of accountability and plagued by corruption at the highest levels. District-level police are often under the control of powerful politicians, wealthy landowners, and other influential members of society. There are numerous reported cases of police extrajudicial killings of criminal suspects, torture of detainees to obtain confessions, and harassment and extortion of individuals who seek to file criminal cases, especially against members of the security forces.

This report documents custodial torture, extrajudicial executions, and other serious human rights violations by the police in Pakistan. It details the difficulties that victims of crime and police abuse face in obtaining justice, including the refusal by police to register complaints (known as First Information Reports or FIRs), their demands for bribes, and biased investigations. The poor and other vulnerable or marginalized groups invariably face the greatest obstacles to obtaining justice in a system that is rigged against them. It also examines limitations, including financial and human resource constraints, which police say impact their ability to function properly, and looks at examples of some good police practices that can serve as possible models for the future.

Several police officers who spoke to Human Rights Watch openly admitted to the practice of false or faked “encounter killings,” in which police stage an armed exchange to kill an individual already in custody. Such killings may be carried out because of pressure from higher command or local elites, or because the police are not able to gather enough evidence to ensure convictions. Police are rarely held accountable for these killings and families of victims are deterred from filing complaints against police out of fear of harassment or being accused of false charges.

The corruption and abuse endemic to the Pakistani law enforcement system are often described as “thana culture,”after the Urdu word for police station. Many police officers told Human Rights Watch that abuses can often be explained, if not justified, by the considerable pressures placed upon them. They listed organizational shortcomings, inadequate training and resources, lack of requisite funds, poor working conditions, and lack of coordination with other law enforcement agencies as obstacles to transparency and accountability within the police force. All of these problems, they said, were exacerbated by pressures imposed by senior police officials to achieve results, and by politicians and other local elites with their own agendas.

Failure to Register and Investigate Crimes

Several people interviewed for this report, particularly members of marginalized socioeconomic groups, raised concerns about not being able to register a First Information Report (FIR) with police because of what one activist described as the “financial cost of doing business with the police”—an allusion to bribe-taking—or the fear of harassment or threat. It is difficult for those without political or financial influence to file an FIR, particularly if they seek to implicate someone more powerful in a crime. As one senior police officer said, the FIR is often used as a “tool of oppression… by the ruling elite against the weak and powerless.”

For instance, in November 2014, four armed men entered Ahmed’s shop in Pakpattan, beat him and his son, and emptied the register. Ahmed went to the police station to identify two of the men who allegedly had robbed them. However, the police would not identify the men because, as Ahmed later learned, they worked for an influential landowning politician and had been instructed not to file an FIR. Ahmed chose not to pursue the case out of fear for his own safety: “I am not pursuing the case because I want to remain safe. The robbers are not only dangerous themselves but they clearly also have the support of other dangerous and powerful people.”

Investigation of registered cases is another area of concern particularly for vulnerable categories including women, minorities, and the poor. Human rights organizations have noted that registration and subsequent investigation of cases is particularly arduous for female victims of sexual assault. Such cases remain highly underreported because of the misogynist and biased attitude of state institutions, such as the police and judiciary, and society at large; in many instances, women who are sexually assaulted are not considered “victims” but are instead blamed for inviting the attack.

Registering False Cases, Making Arbitrary Arrests

Pakistani police also use their extensive powers of registration of cases, arrest, and detention at the behest of powerful societal elites (the wealthy, politicians, landowners, and civil and military bureaucracy) to bring false charges against perceived opponents as a form of intimidation or punishment. Many are arbitrarily arrested. Under Pakistan’s Criminal Procedure Code, police are empowered to arrest without a warrant any person against whom there is “reasonable suspicion” of being involved or “concerned in” certain types of criminal offenses or against whom there exists a “reasonable complaint” or “credible information” of such involvement. They can also arrest without a warrant a person whom they “suspect of designing” to commit certain types of offenses. Some family members said that police threatened to lodge false cases against them if they continued to pursue complaints of police abuse.

Torture and Ill-Treatment in Custody

Torture and other ill-treatment of suspects in police custody is a widespread problem in Pakistan. Human Rights Watch discovered that such practices include custodial beatings, by hand or with batons and littars (strips of leather), the stretching and crushing of detainees’ legs with roola (metal rods), sexual violence, prolonged sleep deprivation, and mental torture, including forcing detainees to witness the torture of others. Custodial deaths resulting from torture are not uncommon. Former detainees often reported long-lasting effects including physical pain, disability, and mental stress.

Police frequently torture suspects to obtain confessions or other information, to coerce bribes, or because of pressure from local politicians or landowners. For example, Akhtar Ali died on June 3, 2015, from police torture, according to his wife, Riffat Naz. When she last saw him alive at the hospital, after the police brought him there, she said she “found him in a coma, with a broken skull, there was no hair on the back of his head, his nose was broken and there were scars on his face.” The police officially denied the allegations of torture, although she says that an officer came to her house to offer compensation for his death.

Faked “Encounter Killings”

Police in Pakistan routinely and unlawfully kill criminal suspects by means of faked “encounter killings.” An encounter killing occurs when the police justify the killing of a criminal suspect either as an act of self-defense or as a means of preventing suspects from fleeing arrest or escaping from custody.

The nongovernmental Human Rights Commission of Pakistan reported that in 2015, over 2,000 people were killed in armed encounters with the police, most in the province of Punjab. Human Rights Watch is concerned that many, if not most, of these encounter killings were faked and did not occur in situations in which lives were at risk.

One officer told Human Rights Watch that an encounter killing is seen as a way of ensuring that a known criminal does not escape justice because of lack of evidence and witnesses. Others sought to frame the practice as a means of delivering justice to “hardened criminals” and circumventing an inefficient judicial system. Senior police officers openly admitted to Human Rights Watch that “junior officers do stage encounters and kill suspects,” though they were less willing to provide information about the role of senior officials.

One senior officer sought to downplay police culpability in these murders:

In general, they [the police] only kill habitual offenders and criminals who have committed heinous crimes such as rape, armed dacoity [banditry], multiple murders, kidnapping, etc.

Constraints Faced by Police

Police officers told Human Rights Watch that increasing demands placed on the police have made maintaining law and order and ensuring public safety more arduous in Pakistan. In addition to regular policing duties, the government has placed the burden on the police to counter threats and violence posed by armed extremist groups and organized crime related to the arms and drug trades and land-grabbing.

Institutional constraints that have long hampered the police—such as insufficient human and financial resources, poor infrastructure, problems in the criminal justice system, and interference and influence from internal and external sources—have undergone no serious reforms. All of these issues pose obstacles to the Pakistani police’s ability to enforce law and order in a manner consistent with human rights, and free from corruption and improper influence.

Elite elements within Pakistani society—be they politicians, landowners, or members of civil and military bureaucracy—exercise outsized and improper control over law enforcement. Independent analysts and police officials acknowledge that postings to coveted positions, including some station-level appointments, are invariably made on the basis of “political” connections.

Pakistan’s Culture of Impunity

Pakistan’s police are widely regarded as among the most abusive, corrupt, and unaccountable institutions of the state. Effective systems of accountability and redress for grievances are crucial in order to transform the police from a repressive institution into a service that impartially protects life and property.

Police implicated in serious abuses are almost never brought to justice. For example, Syed Alam was killed by the police in 2015 to evade accountability for corruption, according to his father, Umar Daraz. Alam was initially arrested at the behest of some people that owed him money and wanted to avoid repayment. Daraz said that the police demanded bribes to release Alam and badly beat him in custody. Although the family borrowed and sold jewelry to pay the police, the police still filed false charges against them. Once Alam was released on bail, the family filed a complaint against the police with the anti-corruption department, after which the officers named in the complaint threatened the family. Daraz told Human Rights Watch: “The police officers started harassing and threatening me, demanding that I take back my complaint, otherwise they would kill me and my son.” Shortly thereafter, Alam disappeared. Four years later, on November 21, 2015, his body was recovered from a garbage dump with clear signs of torture—including bruises, abrasions and cuts—all over his body.

In addition to police practices that facilitate impunity and institutional constraints raised by the police, specific provisions of the law, some dating back to colonial British rule, including the Criminal Procedure Code (1898), the Maintenance of Public Order Ordinance (1960), and the recently enacted Protection of Pakistan Act (2014), all contribute to a legal framework that protects the police from accountability. The Pakistani government’s tendency to use such legislation has increased as the state has become further embroiled in sectarian violence, militancy, and ethnic conflicts.

This report, in highlighting serious police rights violations, constraints on the police in carrying out their duties, and the laws underlying the institutional structure, calls for much-needed police reform to address these issues, most notably in creating mechanisms for grievance redress and accountability for abuses.

I. Police in Pakistan

Pakistan has a federal system of governance. The provinces have primary responsibility for maintaining public order and investigating crimes. However, the federal government maintains oversight of the police because it recruits and manages the officer cadre of the police through the Police Service of Pakistan. The Penal Code of Pakistan and the Code of Criminal Procedure are uniformly applied to most parts of the country.

To enforce its coordinating role, the federal government also has agencies with cross-provincial jurisdiction such as the Federal Investigation Agency, the Anti-Narcotics Force, the Pakistan Rangers, and the Frontier Corps, among others.

Attempts at Police Reform

Many of the problems associated with Pakistani police services today can be traced back to the mid-nineteenth century, when Pakistan was part of British colonial rule in India. The system of policing in British India was governed by the principle, according to a former Pakistani inspector general of police, that the colonial government’s police would keep “the natives on a tight leash” and “were not a politically neutral outfit for fair and just enforcement of law.”However, despite widespread recognition within successive Pakistani governments of this fundamental problem and an acknowledgement of the need for reform, the process of revamping the police system has been extremely slow.

Police Act of 1861

Following a bloody uprising in 1857, British colonial rulers sought to institute firm control over the police to contain future rebellions and keep local police from joining them. The Police Act of 1861 incorporated a system of dual authority over the police. In addition to the control of the police hierarchy at the federal level, the district police were also placed under the “general control and direction of the district magistrate.” The system of postings and transfers of the police was c0ntrolled by the civil bureaucracy.

Interference by local administrative authorities weakened the police force and exacerbated police abuse and corruption. During uprisings against state authorities and incidents of communal violence, the district magistrate invariably invoked his “emergency powers” and used police to crack down on political activists and violently suppress demonstrations.

The colonial policing system also divided the police service into subordinate or lower ranking constables who were not professionally trained and did not have any operational authority, and an “elite, gazetted corps of European officers” who were trained and had decision-making powers. The constables, recruited from local communities, were often deferential to, and worked at the behest of, more affluent and powerful classes—including local landowners, richer peasants, and village leaders—in opposition to poorer peasants and laborers. This practice still persists today.

Post-Independence Reform Efforts

After Pakistan gained independence in 1947, there were several attempts to reform the police system. Successive Pakistani governments formed various national commissions and invited international committees to provide recommendations for formulating a new police system. However, none of them resulted in new or revised legislation.

Politicians and the civil bureaucracy opposed incorporating these recommendations into law, mainly because they—like British colonial authorities—wanted to maintain control over police in order to deploy them as a tool for fighting political opponents and intimidating the local population.

In 1999, the military government under Gen. Pervez Musharraf sought to address the increasing breakdown of law and order by establishing a focal group on police reforms, which was to provide recommendations to the government on how to restructure the police. A year later, the government’s National Reconstruction Bureau (NRB), as part of its “good governance and devolution of powers programme,” decided to look into the issue and established a think tank on police reforms, comprised of senior police administrators. In 2001, after a year of discussions and deliberation, the NRB published the following conclusions:

  • Responsibility for maintaining law and order needs to rest “unambiguously” with police, requiring the abolition of the “dual control” system of 1861.
  • Police reforms should be institutionalized and new legislation framed accordingly.
  • Police should be insulated from “extraneous interference” and held accountable.
  • Police duties and functions should be redefined, with “service” at the fore.
  • Police institutions should be brought under a system of “external accountability,” trusted by the public.
  • Every province should have an independent prosecution service to improve the quality of investigation and prosecution.
  • Police should be more responsive to public needs and expectations, and proper systems and enhanced public safety standards and police accountability are needed.

Police Order 2002

In 2001, the military government initiated a system of decentralization reforms (the 2001 Local Government System) that transferred several administrative powers from the civil bureaucracy at the district level to an elected nazim (mayor). The government also initiated a set of police reforms in Police Order 2002, which effectively eliminated the dual control of the police that had existed since colonial times.

Police Order 2002 also addressed many organizational and structural problems that had hindered proper functioning of the police. Operational duties were separated from investigation and the institution was organized into branches and divisions according to their different functions. Assignment to these branches and divisions was to be based on experience and training.

The 2002 order also aimed to make the police more publicly accountable. It called for establishing several grievance redress and oversight bodies, constituted of elected and nominated members (including women), at the district, provincial, and national levels.

Attempts at Police Reform in Pakistan (1947-2002)

1948: The Sindh Assembly passes a bill for establishing a “modern police force” for Karachi. But opposition from the bureaucracy means it is ultimately returned to the assembly with “minor corrections” in order to be resubmitted. It is never sent back.

1951: A committee recommends that the Karachi police system be completely changed. The recommendations are abandoned due to resistance from the bureaucracy.

1960-62: Two commissions examine the possibility of devising a metropolitan policing system for Karachi and Lahore. One, the Pay and Services Re-Organization Committee, makes recommendations; government decision makers reject them.

1985: A police committee recommends that the Police Act of 1861 be significantly amended and a metropolitan policing system installed in major cities. The recommendations are not addressed.

1989-90: The government says it will review the police system. In 1990, a British delegation visits Pakistan and recommends the colonial system, designed to preserve the status quo using “suppression and control,” be completely revised to meet the requirements of a modern country. It also recommends that a policing system be introduced in major cities without “dilly-dallying.” Its recommendations are ignored.

1995: ]A UN Mission for Crime Prevention and Criminal Justice visits Pakistan and says “independent but publicly accountable police” are “crucial to the development of stable democratic government institutions.” The mission advises strengthening law enforcement institutions and a revised policing system, particularly in metropolitan areas.

1996: Visiting Japanese police experts advise reforms focused on “building a relationship of trust” between citizens and police. They suggest four steps for reform: establishing an institutional structure that guarantees “political neutrality and democratic control”; proper division of responsibilities between federal and provincial governments; a unified chain of command; and a merit-based system for recruiting and selecting personnel. The Good Governance Group of 2010 Programme adopts these recommendations in 1998, but the government does not take concrete steps to reform police legislation.

1999: A group of Colombian experts visits Pakistan to advise the government on how to control deteriorating law and order in Karachi. The group advises that the police system be reformed and a “professionally competent, politically neutral, and democratically controlled” metropolitan police force established. Their report does not result in policy changes.

Amendments to Police Order 2002

While the new police law had shortcomings, analysts and police generally agreed that the reforms replaced an antiquated police system with a potentially better one. However, many of the changes, particularly those viewed as curbing the power or control of the provincial governments and civil bureaucracy over the police, were resisted by the relevant institutions. In 2004, and again in 2006—facing pressuring from the provincial governments and civil bureaucracy—the Musharraf government amended Police Order 2002, weakening several improvements made in the original order.

The amendments ensured that the provincial police officer’s autonomy was curtailed and decisions were made “subject to the policy, oversight and guidance [of] the chief minister through the chief secretary and the provincial home secretary.”

Several other provisions of the law were amended. For example, under the original order, the provincial government was to appoint the head of the provincial police service, the provincial police officer (PPO), from a list of three people nominated by the federal government in collaboration with the National Public Safety Commissions (NPSC). The NPSC’s role in the nomination process was removed in the 2004 amendments, making the PPO’s appointment susceptible to greater political interference and reducing the chance it would be made on merit. Significant amendments were also made to the system of transfers and postings.

The possibilities for further political pressure or interference in police affairs were further reinforced in the amendments giving the district nazim and the chief minister of each province the authority to evaluate the district police officer (DPO). Such a provision did not exist in the original order. Analysts and retired officers agreed that this move would weaken the internal line of authority within the police department and would put pressure on the DPO to “listen to the political bosses and not his superiors.”

The significant accountability provisions of Police Order 2002 were also watered down. In essence, the provincial government was able to ensure a greater role for itself. Another positive oversight reform, the Police Complaint Authority (PCA), was also affected by the 2004 amendments. In the original order, the functions of grievance redress and public oversight were kept separate so that both issues could be addressed adequately. However, in the 2004 amendments, the PCA was merged with the Provincial Public Safety Commission (PPSC), which was formed of provincial legislators and nominees.

This merger was significant for several reasons: first, there would no longer be a separate focus on the functions of grievance redress and accountability. Second, and perhaps most importantly, provincial politicians, who were now ensured a role in both accountability and redress, would be able to use their positions in this committee to retain their control and influence over the police. In other words, the police would act at the behest of the politicians because the politicians would shield them from accountability. In short, this merger significantly weakened the provisions for focused and independent grievance redress and accountability. According to a senior retired police official, positive reforms of the 2002 order were resisted “surprisingly not so much by police officers but by the provincial governments who saw it as a bid to curtail their authority.”

Post-2010 Changes

In 2010, further changes were made to the police system when the constitutional protection granted to Police Order 2002 under the 17th Amendment lapsed and provinces were able to frame their own policing laws. Punjab and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa decided to base their laws on Police Order 2002, while Sindh and Balochistan decided to adopt a law similar to the colonial law, the Police Act of 1861. At present, therefore, the laws governing the police vary across provinces.

The Police Rules, 1934 (“the rules”) are a compilation of the organizational, regulative, financial, administrative, logistical, operational, and procedural systems which guide the day-to-day working of the police. Following the 18th Amendment, while the provinces have exercised their right to adopt their own laws, they have yet to formulate their own rules and continue to rely on the 1934 rules.

Institutional Arrangements in Provinces

In addition to differences in legislation, the physical presence—and consequently authority or control—of the police also varies among the provinces.

In Balochistan, police jurisdiction is limited to certain areas, and there are two parallel systems for law enforcement—the police and the Balochistan Levies, a force consisting of local tribesmen that has existed since British colonial rule. In this system, sardars (tribal chiefs) provide the state with the services of local tribesmen for maintenance of law and order in their area. The provincial government pays the salaries for the Levies personnel.

Balochistan is chiefly a tribal society that is geographically the largest province of Pakistan (46 percent of the land mass) but the smallest by population (about 6 percent of the total population). Balochistan has the poorest socioeconomic development indicators of any province in Pakistan, and state institutions are weak.

The history of post-independence Balochistan is replete with instances of insurgency and rebellion, as well as state attempts to crush both. Similar to colonial British rulers, the modern Pakistani state has helped perpetuate tribal systems of organization and control in Balochistan. The Pakistani state has endeavored to use such systems to its advantage and to affect forcible change in the province when elements of the tribal leadership have sought to assert independence or simply resisted national government actions. The situation in Balochistan remains extremely volatile and the province is embroiled in multiple violent conflicts, including a Baloch nationalist insurgency, as well as sectarian violence and violence associated with the US-led war on terror.

Punjab, the largest province in Pakistan by population, is also the most densely populated and urbanizing rapidly. The state and its institutions are strongest in Punjab, and spread widely throughout the province, particularly in central areas that are largely urban. Punjab also has the strongest socioeconomic and development indicators in the country. While traditional people of influence (such as sardars and large landowners) continue to hold the most powerful positions in Balochistan and Sindh, the power structure in Punjab is more varied. The rural areas are dominated by large landowners, not in their traditional roles as feudal lords but instead in their new capacities as elected representatives. However, in urban and urbanizing areas, industrialists, politicians, and representatives of market and professional unions and associations wield powerful influence.

The province has a dominant role in the civil-military bureaucracies in Pakistan, and Punjabi politicians continue to be co-opted by the state, including the overpowering military establishment, as willing allies and providers of political legitimacy. Punjab has been more secure and has experienced far fewer large-scale attacks by militants than the other provinces.

The level of socioeconomic development in Sindh is poor compared to Punjab, but greater than in Balochistan. Almost half of Sindh’s population lives in the cities — Karachi, the largest city in the country, is home to over a third of the provincial population. As Pakistan’s main seaport, manufacturing, and commercial center, the city has attracted substantial numbers of migrants from all parts of the country, particularly ethnic Pashtuns from Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa province and the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA). Outside the cities, agricultural services remain the primary industry. Consequently, the traditional landed gentry and their associates remain the most powerful locals of influence and continue to dominate politics and society.

II. Police Abuse

Across Pakistan, police are notorious for a wide range of human rights violations, in addition to incompetence, lack of professionalism, and corruption. Beyond the harms inflicted on individuals caught up in the system, which can be life-threatening, these abuses and practices generate a widespread distrust of police that affects many aspects of Pakistani society. In a country where problems of governance are deeply rooted, public dissatisfaction with the police—evidenced by complaints to provincial ombudsmen and frequent criticisms in media—is pervasive.

This chapter highlights five especially prevalent forms of police abuse in Pakistan: failure to investigate crimes; arbitrary arrest and detention; torture and other ill-treatment; extrajudicial killings; and infringement of basic rights.

Under the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, to which Pakistan is a party, authorities are obligated to ensure that all people: have an effective remedy when their rights and freedoms are violated, including by government officials (article 2(3)); be equal before the law (article 26); be protected from arbitrary arrest and detention (article 9), torture and ill-treatment (article 7), and violations of their right to life (article 6); and be able to exercise their rights to freedom of expression, peaceful assembly, and association (articles 19 to 22).

Failure to Register and InvestigateCrimes

In Pakistan, registering a complaint with the police requires that a complainant physically appear in the police station with jurisdiction over the alleged offense. Under section 154 of the Code of Criminal Procedure of Pakistan (CrPC), the police are obliged to register all complaints of cognizable offenses brought to the police station. The police, after preliminary inquiries, are to then lodge a First Investigation Report (FIR). Unless an FIR is registered, the police do not investigate the crime.

Many victims of crime, particularly those that are poor or belong to vulnerable groups such as women and ethnic or religious minorities, are reluctant to approach police stations because of police harassment or financial constraints. Women of lower socioeconomic status particularly fear going to police stations where they are likely to experience “hurt and psychological trauma.”

The common perception is that the police will demand bribes before taking a complaint, subject complainants to abusive behavior, and falsely accuse the complainant of the crime. Crime rates are low in Pakistan primarily because people are afraid to report crimes, especially street crime.

In practice, instead of formally registering an FIR, the police will usually make a note of the complaint in the roznamcha (a register that records the daily activities of a police station). While the police claim that only false or manufactured complaints are not registered as FIRs, the process often is a form of police discrimination. Human rights activists say police are less likely to register complaints brought by those from marginalized groups, and also those alleging that a crime was committed by a powerful person. In many instances where perpetrators have ties with powerful citizens, FIRs may ultimately be registered but against “unknown persons,” allowing them to escape investigation.

By not registering FIRs, police are able to avoid their legal obligation to investigate the matter. Officials explained that according to the law, once an FIR is registered, the police are bound to investigate the complaint unless they provide written reasons for not doing so. Furthermore, canceling a registered FIR is “extremely difficult and ultimately entirely at the discretion of the courts.”

Hussain Naqi of the nongovernmental Human Rights Commission of Pakistan told Human Rights Watch that there is considerable pressure on station-level officers to show satisfactory progress on all registered complaints to maintain a “good police station record.”

Senior police officials who spoke to Human Rights Watch contended that pressure to maintain a good record was one reason police were reluctant to register FIRs, but not the primary motivation. They said that the willingness of the courts to accept complainants’ applications for FIRs to be registered compels the police to investigate complaints that are false or of malicious intent, ultimately putting more pressure on an already over-burdened police system.

Non-registration of FIRs is also linked to corruption. Complainants, particularly those of lesser means, said that police refused to register their FIRs unless bribes were paid. Hussain Naqi of the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan said that bribing the police through a middleman or agent (commonly known as a “tout”) was the “most effective” way for getting an FIR registered. Also frequently needed was a sifarish (recommendation) from local notables such as politicians, representatives of professional, business or religious associations, gundas (thugs) and heads of criminal gangs, or senior government officials. “Corruption is a big obstacle to registering FIRs,” said Naqi. “Police officials do not register complaints automatically as they want to extract money from both the complainant [to register] and the accused [to not register].

Failure to investigate the cases that are registered is another area of concern, particularly for vulnerable populations such as women, minorities, and the poor. Human rights organizations have noted that registration and subsequent investigation of cases is particularly difficult for female victims of sexual assault and as a result, most such cases remain unreported.

According to data compiled by the nongovernmental organization War Against Rape Karachi (WAR), only 106 FIRs of sexual assault were registered in 2014, while the records of three major government hospitals showed that 383 Medico-Legal Exams (MLEs) were conducted for sexual assault cases in the same period. The disparities in data indicate that in many instances of sexual assault police reports are not filed.

Victims of sexual assault in Pakistan often fear pressing charges because they and their families are subject to harassment and intimidation by the police and accused parties. In several instances, HRW found that victims faced extreme pressure to accept settlements out of court. Furthermore, women are reluctant to report sexual crimes because of widespread misogyny throughout Pakistani society, including in state institutions such as the judiciary. In many instances, victims of sexual assault are actually blamed for “inviting” attacks.

Robbery in Ahmed’s shop

In November 2014, Ahmed and his son, both residents of Pakpattan, were robbed as they were closing their business for the day. Four armed men entered their shop, beat them, and emptied the cash register. They then rode off on motorcycles, firing their weapons in the air. Ahmed told Human Rights Watch that they were further traumatized by the police response:

As you can imagine, we were left in a state of shock and fear. After an hour, we learned that the police had apprehended some men near our market. We went to the police station immediately and identified two of the men as the ones who had robbed us.

However, the police did not register our FIR immediately. We later learned that the robbers worked for a local influential landowner-politician, and his people had called the police and instructed them to hold off on registering the FIR. The police kept insisting that we register the FIR against ‘unknown’ persons; clearly they wanted to be able to set the criminal free. There has been no further progress on the case.

I am not pursuing the case further as I want to remain safe. The robbers themselves are not only dangerous, but they clearly also have the support of other dangerous and powerful people. Ordinary persons such as myself have to live with the realization that we are not strong enough to take on powerful elements, including the police. I also don’t want to pursue the matter further as I am scared that the police may subject me to further harassment and implicate me in false cases.

Killing of Sulaiman Lashari

Ghulam Mustafa Lashari said that his 18-year-old son, Sulaiman, was killed in their home in Karachi on May 8, 2014. He identified the perpetrator as a high-ranking police official’s son; Sulaiman had previously quarreled with him over a car race. Lashari told Human Rights Watch that he was concerned police were consequently refusing to conduct a thorough investigation:

[Name withheld], the son of a senior superintendent of police, entered my house with his father’s five police guards, who were all constables. They shot my son Sulaiman and then left. We immediately called the police and took our son to the hospital. He didn’t survive.

The killer’s father has since tried to pressure and intimidate us to not pursue the case. Forensic evidence proved that the rifles used to shoot my son were government-issued police weapons. The government has tried to interfere and change the investigation officer. I am being followed by the police and my family is constantly being harassed.

Killing of Parween Rehman

Parween Rehman, a renowned Pakistani social activist, was killed on March 13, 2013, in the Pirabad area of Karachi. Her assassination led to nationwide condemnation and demands to hold the perpetrators accountable. However, Rehman’s sister, Aquila Ismail, told Human Rights Watch that police were instead attempting to protect the perpetrator—a prominent political party member and land dealer—and threatening the family:

After Parween’s murder, the cover-up by the police was intense and swift. When we returned from the funeral on March 14, we found out that the additional inspector general (AIG) had held a press conference and claimed that they had killed the culprit in a police shootout. We met with the inspector general, and he told us that Parween was killed by people who were involved in the illegal water hydrant business and had connections to the Taliban. This did not make sense since the last time that she had worked on illegal water trade was in 2009. She was most recently working on secure housing for low income residents living on the outskirts of Karachi, and her work had irked local developers involved in unlawful land grabs.

The police tried to close the case the next day. However, we didn’t believe the police and filed a petition in the Supreme Court. The court ordered a judicial inquiry into the case and the killing of the alleged culprit. The inquiry found the police’s version of events to be false. During the proceedings of the judicial inquiry, the investigating officer of the case told us that we should ‘stop pursuing the case and make a deal.’

After the inquiry report, the case was reopened. But from that point onwards, whenever the police killed someone extra-judicially, they tried to claim that the person had been Parween’s murderer. They were desperate to close the case. During the investigation, one individual was arrested who gave the name of the person supposedly involved in Parween’s killing. He belonged to a political party and was a local land dealer. The police have never arrested or investigated him.

The police have been harassing us instead. They said to me and my colleagues, ‘Why don’t you take a trip somewhere?’ and ‘you should be careful since we cannot guarantee your safety and something might happen to you.’ This is because the police are part of the land-grabbing mafia and all illegal land transactions are made with their support and patronage. They are afraid that if the real perpetrators were apprehended, the trail would eventually lead to them.

Killing of Saeeda Khatoon’s three relatives

The family members of Saeeda Khatoon, who live in Lyari, Karachi, in Sindh province, were regarded by the authorities as Baloch nationalists. Three members of her family have been killed in circumstances suggesting government involvement. Her husband was killed in 2008. Her brother, a journalist, went missing on March 24, 2013; his body was found by a road on August 21, 2013. Her son was killed in May 2013. She said that none of the cases have been solved and that the police have repeatedly refused to register FIRs when she lodged complaints. She told Human Rights Watch:

After my brother disappeared, we went daily to the police station to register a case, but the police repeatedly refused and asked us to wait. When we said that it was our right to have a case registered, the police told us to get out and go to our sardar for help. They also told me, ‘You know who has picked up your brother and we can’t register an FIR against them’ [an apparent reference to the security agencies]. After 16-17 days, the police said that they had registered an FIR and we shouldn’t come back. They never contacted us about this case again.

Two months later, my 17-year-old son, Faraz, was shot dead. I went to the police station to register a case, but they refused. The station house officer (SHO) said to me, ‘There are 20 people killed in Lyari every day, what is so special about your son that we should register an FIR?’ I kept going to the police station for one and a half years; they always treated with me with contempt, mocked me at times, and never registered an FIR. Then, in late 2015, they told me that the FIR for my son’s murder had been registered 18 months ago, saying, ‘You had it registered on the night of his murder.’ That is an utter lie. They showed me an FIR that did not have my signature on it. Instead of registering the case against security agencies who shot my son, they had filed it against ‘unknown people’ and had now closed the case as untraceable.

On August 21, 2013, I saw on television that my brother’s tortured body was found on the roadside. I went to the mortuary and identified him on August 22. I went to the police again to have a case registered but they refused and said it was an ‘untraceable’ murder and no investigation was needed.

Five years earlier, when my husband was killed in 2008, even then the police said it was an ‘untraceable’ murder and no FIR was necessary. I have lost my son, husband, and brother in this cruel system and have not even managed to get a single case registered and investigated – let alone get justice.

Harassment of Rehman

Rehman, a resident of Sariab Road in Quetta, Balochistan, said he was rebuffed by the local police when he tried to have an FIR registered against his daughter’s fiancé in early 2014. He told Human Rights Watch:

My daughter was engaged to marry Quddus at a very young age. However, after a few years we realized that Quddus was not a good man; he was involved in many criminal cases and was also recognized as the local thug. Of course, when I told him of my decision [to call off the engagement] he was very angry and threatened to take revenge. One evening he accosted my only son and threatened to kill him. Scared of what Quddus might do, I immediately went to the police station and asked to lodge a complaint. However, the police refused. I suppose I should have known better. The station house officer (SHO) had close ties with Quddus and it was commonly known that they had engaged in several criminal activities together. I continue to live in fear.

Discrimination against Bonded Laborers

Bonded laborers, or haris, are an especially vulnerable population in Pakistan. According to the latest Global Slavery report, Pakistan has the third-highest number of people in modern slavery in the world, and “debt bondage is the most prevalent form of modern slavery.” Human Rights Watch research found that zamindars (landowners who lease their land to tenant farmers) frequently use the police to violently repress haris. For example, a bonded laborer in Umerkot told Human Rights Watch:

A year ago, my son, who was cleaning the water channel providing water to our land, was attacked by one of the landowner’s men. My son was seriously injured. Upon receiving this news, I contacted the leader of the tribe and asked to meet him. However, as I got near his land, I was attacked with an axe. My injuries were extremely serious and I was hospitalized for two months.

My family went to the local police station to have an FIR registered. However, the police turned them away saying that the location where the attack had taken place did not fall within their jurisdiction. When my family went to the other police station in the area, they were given a similar response. Obviously, the landowner was influencing the police. After getting turned away by two police stations, we were left with no option but to approach the court. The court accepted our application and ordered that the FIR be registered.

However, in order to pressure my family, the landowner approached another police station and accused me of stealing his motorcycle. As he is a man of influence, the police registered his complaint despite the fact that I was lying injured in the hospital at the time. I later learned that the elected representative, who was from the same tribe as the landowner, also influenced the police. The case against me continues to this day and as a result, the police constantly harass me and my family. Of course, there has been no progress regarding the FIR that I had registered against the landowner. There is so much injustice in this area. No one can challenge the landowner and those who do are made to suffer.

Reporting Cases of Rape

Human Rights Watch examined two cases in which hari women reported being raped by individuals who had the protection of their landowners. In both cases, the police failed to take prompt action and investigate the complaints.

Case in Umerkot

In 2014, a hari woman in her late teens alleged that she was raped by a powerful local landowner in Umerkot district. When members of her family tried to register a case, the police failed to promptly register a criminal complaint and begin an impartial investigation. Instead, the police accused the family of falsifying the complaint.

A male relative of the woman said:

Last Eid [a Muslim holiday], the landowner’s brother raped one of our young women while she was working in the field. As soon as we discovered what had happened, we went to the landowner and demanded that a criminal case be opened against his brother. However, in order to prevent the woman and her husband from going to the police, the landowner locked both of them up. Nonetheless, we didn’t give up and went to the police station to file a complaint. Unfortunately, the police were unmoved and after a couple of hours they forced us out of the police station.

The following day, the landowner released the woman and we took her to the police station and forced the police to give her a medical examination. Sadly, however, the delayed medical examination weakened our case. I am sure this was the objective of the landowner and the police. The landowner had locked the woman and her husband together for a day in order to be able to maintain that the couple had sexual contact and that she had not been raped.

However, we were determined not to give up. We returned to the police station three days in a row and each time the police told us, ‘You are lying. There has been no rape. Get out of here.’ Eventually, we decided to hold a dharna (sit-in) in front of the deputy inspector general’s (DIG) office. After three days, the DIG finally ordered that our FIR be registered.

As far as I know, the accused was eventually arrested but then released on bail. There has been no further progress regarding the rape charge and I am sure that the landowner and his brother will get by unscathed. The norm is that weak people are oppressed and abused by the powerful. There is no justice for the weak.

Rape of Kainat Soomro

Kainat Soomro, 22, is a rape survivor whose struggle for justice has received international attention. In January 2007, an 8th grade student at the time, she was abducted on her way home from school, in the town of Mehar in rural Sindh, and gang-raped by men who had the protection of local landowners. She managed to escape captivity after three days. The police initially refused to register a criminal case for rape. After persistent attempts to register their case, several members of her family were falsely accused and arrested for murder. Kainat Soomro told Human Rights Watch that her brother was murdered in 2010; she believes the police were complicit in his death. She said:

Instead of helping us, the police harassed us. False cases were registered against my brother in Hyderabad and they arrested him and kept him in jail for two months. We eventually managed to get him released on bail, but then they began to harass my other brothers.

In 2009, the police registered a false FIR against my father and three brothers for the murder of my sister-in-law, even though she is still alive. For nine months, my brothers were kept in police custody for the murder of a person who was still alive. Finally, my sister-in-law appeared in court to prove that she was alive. That fake murder case against my family is still pending.

The waderas [a Sindhi term for feudal landowners] of Sindh support the rapists, which is why the police are harassing us. The police have told us repeatedly to withdraw our case.

She alleged that in June 2010, the police summoned her brother, Sabir Soomro, under the pretext of recording his statement for the investigation, but instead handed him over to her rapists, who murdered him on June 26. “The police connived with the men who raped me to murder my brother,” she said. “The police only registered the FIR for my brother’s murder when the minister of the interior took notice because of the media publicity. My family and I have been struggling for justice for nine years and the police have always acted as a hindrance.

Arbitrary Arrest and Detention

Police in Pakistan have expansive powers of arrest and detention. They are authorized to arrest without a warrant any person against whom there is “reasonable suspicion” of being involved or “concerned in” certain types of criminal offenses, or against whom there exists a “reasonable complaint” or “credible information” of such involvement. This includes individuals who are in possession of anything “which may reasonably be suspected to be stolen property.” In addition, police can also arrest without a warrant a person whom they know or suspect of “designing” to commit certain types of offenses.

To provide protection from arbitrary arrest and detention, as well as abuses in custody, the law also specifies that when the police arrest without a warrant, the arrested person must be produced before a magistrate within 24 hours. In the event that the investigation cannot be completed in 24 hours, and there is reason to believe that the accusation is “well-founded,” the police can produce the accused in front of the magistrate and obtain authorization for further detention or physical remand [sending an accused person back into police custody or detention]. Magistrates can authorize physical remand for up to 15 days.

Discussions with NGOs and accounts from many former detainees indicate that police routinely abuse their powers, and arbitrarily arrest and detain people.

Arbitrary Arrest of Ahmed

In 2014, Nasreen, a resident of Pakpattan, was murdered. Her family suspected her husband, Abid, who was known to be violent towards his wife. Nasreen’s family members went to the local police station and registered an FIR naming Abid as the accused. However, in addition to Abid’s name, the police also inserted “unknown persons” among the list of accused. A few days later, the police arrested Ahmed, Nasreen’s brother-in-law, as a co-accused. Ahmed, a tenant farmer, told Human Rights Watch that the police were looking for a bribe:

It is common police practice in these areas to include ‘unknown’ persons in the FIR and then pick up weak people to extort money from them. A couple of days after the murder, the police came and arrested me even though my name was not in the FIR, and I had an alibi. The day I was locked up, the police asked me for money in order to secure my release. However, I told them that I was too poor and could not afford to pay the sums they were demanding. Every night I would hear the police beating other suspects held in the lock-up. I could not sleep because of the screaming and the pleas for mercy.

Ahmed was kept in jail for five days without being produced in front of a magistrate. His family and their landowner decided not to file a complaint because they feared that the police would then become “truly vengeful and ruthless.” Eventually, the police let Ahmed go:

They released me after realizing that I did not have the money they were demanding. Luckily I was not beaten thanks to the sifarish [recommendation] of my landowner. But I will never be able to forget those five days of fear. Some friends advised me to take action against the police. However, I decided against it. It is best for weak people like us to stay as far away as possible from the police. Holding them accountable is impossible.

False Charges against Gulshan

Gulshan and his family, who are Dalit haris living in Umerkot, secured a court order for their release from their landowner in March 2014. In May, the landowner registered an FIR against Gulshan and five of his family members in the neighboring district of Tando Allah Yar, accusing them of stealing his motorcycle and pistol. Gulshan maintains that the accusation is completely false and that the landowner did this to “exact his revenge”:

The charge against us was completely false; none of us had been to Tando Allah Yar. The aim of the landowner was for us to be branded criminals, and consequently we became vulnerable to harassment and abuse by the police. He was able to do so because he had influence over the SHO of Tando Allah Yar. In order to circumvent an arrest, I approached the district court and applied to have the FIR against us dismissed. However, the case continues. The landowner continues to use his influence over the police and as a result they are constantly threatening and harassing us. We are scared but there is nothing we can do.

Police Harassment of Hari Ram

Hari Ram, a Hindu tenant farmer in Thar, said local police constantly harassed him at the behest of his neighbor, a powerful local landowner. Hari Ram told Human Rights Watch:

Basically, my neighbor, a big landowner, wants to take over my land and keeps harassing me so that I leave. In this effort, he keeps registering false FIRs against me and other members of my family. In May 2014, he registered three entirely false FIRs against us at the local police station. He accused us of robbery, cattle stealing, and illegal possession of land. Of course, he was able to do so as the station house officer of the thana is under his control. When the first two FIRs were registered, I was able to secure pre-arrest bail. However, I was unable to do so in the case of the third FIR. Consequently, three of us were arrested. We were kept in the lock-up for three days and were badly beaten. The police kept telling us to give in to the landowner’s demand and relinquish our land. Thankfully, our family was able to secure our release. However, our troubles are far from over. The false cases against us continue and we live with the fear of harassment.

Arbitrary Arrest of Mahmood
Mahmood was abducted and tortured by police in Karachi in November 2015, and was only released when his family paid bribes to the police. He says there was no basis for the police action except greed.

I was having dinner at a restaurant in the Hawkes Bay area in Karachi when police officers in private clothes forced me into a police car and took me to a police station along the beach. They beat me and put me in a lock-up. They asked me to pay 500,000 rupees (US$5,000) and threatened to implicate me in a Lyari gang war case. The police called my family, asked them to bring the money and get me released. They kept me in custody and slapped and kicked me the entire night. The next morning my family members brought 250,000 rupees (US$2,500) as a bribe, which was all that they could arrange. And the police let me go.

Torture and Ill-Treatment

Police in Pakistan frequently use torture and other ill-treatment against persons in custody, particularly during criminal investigations. Those from marginalized groups are at particular risk of violent forms of police abuse. Victims of police abuse reported long-lasting effects including physical pain, disability, and mental stress.

Torture is typically used to obtain confessions and other information from suspects, or as a way to extract bribes from those arbitrarily detained. Custodial torture can result in death. According to the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan’s media database, although there were 71 reported cases of custodial torture between January 2014 and May 2016, FIRs were only registered for 16 cases.

Several police officers who spoke to Human Rights Watch sought to justify the use of physical force as a necessary technique to obtain convictions. A station house officer said:

We have different techniques: we keep them awake for a couple of days, we slap them around, we use littar [strips of leather commonly used for beatings]. The technique depends on the situation. If the person is not a hardened criminal, he will begin speaking the truth if spoken to in a harsh tone or after a couple of slaps. If, however, he is a hardened criminal, we have to resort to other treatments.

Some officers claimed that the police only use “physical methods” condemned by human rights groups when dealing with hardened criminals who need to be threatened to tell the truth. They said that there was considerable pressure on the police to recover stolen property and no criminal is willing to give back what they stole unless physically threatened. One officer said: “How do you expect us to recover stolen property from hardened criminals? Do you think they will agree if we say, ‘Be nice to us and return what you stole?’”

Senior officials also said that physical force is often used because the police are not trained in sophisticated methods of investigation and forensic analysis.

None of these reasons, however, justify the use of torture and other ill-treatment under international and Pakistani law. Pakistan is party to international treaties that prohibit the use of torture and other ill-treatment, including the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and the Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment. Although Pakistan does not have domestic legislation criminalizing torture, article 14(2) of the constitution of Pakistan prohibits the use of torture for extracting evidence. In the absence of express statutory criminalization of torture, Sections 339, 340, and 349 of the Pakistan Penal Code, 1860—dealing with wrongful restraint, wrongful confinement, and criminal use of force, respectively—are sometimes used in prosecution of torture.

Tortured for Information: Kumar

Kumar worked for a nongovernmental organization in Umerkot and lived with his family in the residential quarters of a local government hospital where his father was a vaccinator. In September 2013, Kumar’s neighbor, a young woman, went missing. It was later discovered that she had eloped with a man she had befriended at work.

Initially, however, the woman’s family wrongly accused Kumar of abduction. He was arrested and taken to the police lock-up, where he was held for 11 days without remand and tortured as the police interrogated him about the missing woman:

The police were extremely brutal. They beat me mercilessly. They suspended me upside down and beat me with canes. On another occasion, they beat me and stretched me to such an extent that my foot fractured. My spine was also injured. It was simply hideous. There was also sexual torture. I cannot relive it, I cannot recount.

The case against Kumar was eventually dropped. Kumar told Human Rights Watch that he would not approach the authorities to hold the police accountable:

Many people from the community said they would support me if I wanted to complain against the police. However, I decided not to pursue the matter further as I didn’t want to get into more trouble with the police and cause my family greater distress. I knew that if I pursued the matter the police would lodge false cases against me and my family and harass us.

Custodial Death of Syed Alam

On March 15, 2013, Syed Alam, a construction worker, was picked up in Nazimabad, Karachi, by a police special investigating unit (SIU). According to his father, Umar Daraz, Syed had said that the police found him while he was shopping in the market, knocked him unconscious with a handgun, and took him away in a police car. The police also took 27,000 rupees (US$270). He believes the police apprehended his son because they had been paid off by some individuals who owed Syed money. Daraz said:

He was missing for nearly 15 hours. Then, at 1 a.m., I received a call from the police. They told me that they would let my son go if I paid 1 million rupees (US$10,000). I pleaded with them that I am poor, that I could only give 400,000 rupees (US$4,000). But they said the amount was non-negotiable and that if I did not have the money by the afternoon of March 16, 2013, they would kill my son. I had no choice. I borrowed the remaining amount and went to the designated place to drop off the bribe money.

After paying the bribe, I asked them to hand over my son. On hearing this, a police official loaded his rifle and said, ‘We will shoot you if you talk too much.’ They let me talk to my son on the phone. He was very panicked and asked me to pay whatever they demanded. The police officials told me that my son would come back to me soon.

I followed the police car after the payment and saw them enter the Jamshed town police station. I waited all night for my son to return, and went to the Jamshed town police station the following day. After much begging and pleading, the police allowed me to enter the station and see my son, who was detained in the lock-up. He had visibly been tortured and there were marks around his face and neck. Two officers at the police station asked for more money. They said that if I did not pay, I would never see my son again. I cried and even put my turban at their feet saying that I don’t have this sort of money. Finally, they said, ‘Give us 350,000 rupees (US$3,500) and we will let him go.’

I sold my wife’s jewelry, went back to the Jamshed town police station, and paid the bribe to police officer Ali Raza on the evening of March 18, 2013. He told me to come the next day and get my son. When I went to the police station on the next day, I found out that they had falsely implicated my son in three cases, including a bank robbery, and had sent him away to prison. The police had shown that they recovered 250,000 (US$2,500) rupees from him. In fact, they had taken that money out of the bribe money that I had paid.

My son remained in prison for three months before he was released on bail by the Sindh High Court. Once he was released, I filed a complaint with the anti-corruption department against the police officers who had abducted him and taken bribe money from us. The police officers started harassing and threatening me, demanding that I take back my complaint, otherwise they would kill me and my son. Within 20 days of the complaint, my son survived two assassination attempts. I made my two daughters stop going to college because I feared for their safety.

On the 21st day, my son went missing again when he went out to the market. I went to the police station and filed a petition in court. However, I found no trace of my son. The police denied arresting him. For nearly two years, I searched everywhere for my son.

On November 16, 2015, I was on my way to work in the Baldia area when I saw my son in the back of a police van on the road. The same police officers were with him. They did not see me. I shouted and attempted to stop them, but they drove away.

After that, I went to the Jamshed town police station and all other police stations in the area, but I couldn’t find my son. I wrote applications to all senior police officials including the inspector general in Sindh. However, no one responded.

I also checked all the hospitals. On November 21, 2015, I found my son’s body at the Chhipa hospital in Karachi. I fainted upon seeing his body. There were torture marks all over his body. The hospital record showed that the police from the Iqbal town police station picked up my son’s body from a garbage dump and brought it to the Chhipa hospital.

I have no doubt in my mind that the police killed him. They killed him because I was pursuing the anti-corruption complaint against them. I have no hope of getting justice in this crooked system.

Death in Custody of Akhtar Ali

Akhtar Ali died on June 3, 2015, in Lahore. His wife, Riffat Naz, believes that the police tortured him to death. The police claim that Akhtar Ali was killed by an angry mob after he was caught stealing. Riffat Naz told Human Rights Watch:

On the morning of May 31, 2015, my husband received a phone call that left him very disturbed. He did not tell me who it was. All he told me is that he needed to pay someone and needed 5,000 rupees ($50). Shortly afterwards, he went to the market to get some groceries. We began getting concerned when he did not return till the evening. I tried calling his mobile phone several times, but it was turned off. We checked around the neighborhood and even went to the police to file a missing person report. The police told us not to worry and to wait for some time, but didn’t register our complaint.

On June 3, 2015, we received a call from the Services Hospital in Lahore informing us that my husband was critically injured. We rushed to the hospital and found him in a coma with a broken skull. There was no hair on the back of his head, his nose was broken, and there were scars on his face. He died a couple of hours later. The hospital staff told us that he was brought in by the police on June 1. The hospital record also has the entry for his admission by the police.

When we contacted the police, we were told that he was beaten by a mob after being caught trying to rob a grocery store in Lahore Cantonment. The police refused to give us any details. The investigating officer was rude and abusive, and told me to go away when I asked for more information.

About 10 days later, the investigating officer came to our house and told my mother-in-law that he wished to see me since he wanted to pay me compensation for my husband’s death. My mother-in-law refused and told him that we wanted justice, not money. Three days later, the police came again and arrested my husband’s brother, Zulfiqar, without giving any reason. They kept him in custody for eight days and released him after we paid a bribe of 10,000 rupees (US$100).

They’re threatening to torture and kill our entire family if we decide to pursue this matter. The police have registered a report saying that he was killed by an unidentified mob of people, and that they found him already in a coma with a broken skull.

If he was trying to rob a store, there must have been witnesses. Where are they? Why did the police not contact us if they found him an injured state? I know that the police killed my husband. But I fear that I will never be able to prove it.

Extrajudicial Killings: Faked “Encounter Killings”

In Pakistan, faked “encounter killings” are a particularly common form of extrajudicial killings by police. An encounter killing occurs when the police justify the killing of a criminal suspect either as an act of self-defense or as a means of preventing suspects from fleeing arrest or escaping from custody. While not all such killings might meet international standards for the use of lethal force, many are faked outright, and are not merely the use of excessive force but an extrajudicial execution. The UN Basic Principles on the Use of Force and Firearms by Law Enforcement Officials provide that “intentional lethal use of firearms may only be made when strictly unavoidable in order to protect life.”

The Human Rights Commission of Pakistan has found that the police are often responsible for “being either trigger happy, or worse still, staging the events to unlawfully kill individuals.”

Расскажи это Чатрукьяну. Стратмор подошел ближе. - Чатрукьян мертв. - Да неужели.

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