Mayo 26, 2007

Pakistan locates 98 illegal detainees

Islamabad, May 25: Pakistani authorities Friday informed the Supreme Court in Islamabad that 98 victims of illegal detention, or "forced disappearances", have now been located, while 156 more were still unaccounted for.

An interior ministry officer presented the names of five more people, who had been found, to a two-member court panel during the hearing of four petitions demanding production of missing people by intelligence agencies.

Efforts to locate the other 156 would continue, Colonel Javed Iqbal told the court.

While the current hearings pertain to 254 people, activists said the actual number of missing people is far higher. Amna Masood Janjua, the wife of a missing man and a leading campaigner, told the BBC's Urdu Service that over 2,500 people are unaccounted for.

The disappearances became a major issue last year during protests in Islamabad by families of people who were believed to have been detained for alleged links with the Al Qaeda terrorist network.

The country's suspended chief justice Iftikhar Chaudhry, had then taken up the issue and ordered agencies to find them.

The Human Rights Commission of Pakistan and other civil rights organisations also filed petitions seeking information on those missing.

Since then, authorities informed the court of the whereabouts of about 60 people while several others have been released by intelligence agencies.

Eight people, including three Afghan immigrants, who were picked up from different parts of North-West Frontier Province (NWFP) were released last week, the Dawn newspaper reported.

While they did not reveal many details of their detention, they told their families that their captors kept asking them about links with Al Qaeda, according to the paper.

Posted by marga at Mayo 26, 2007 1:10 AM | TrackBack
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