Pakistani police under fire over 'torture deaths'

Calls for inquiry after two men died in die in custody
Pakistani police under fire over 'torture deaths'

Christian youth Amir Masih died from wounds allegedly inflicted by police torture in Lahore. (Photo from Pixabay)

ucanews.com reporter, Karachi
Pakistan
September 6, 2019
Relatives of a Christian gardener and a mentally-challenged man who both died in police custody in Pakistan’s Punjab province have called for justice after claiming they were tortured.

Salahuddin Ayubi, a mentally challenged resident of Gujranwala district, died on Aug. 30, just two days after his arrest for allegedly stealing cash from an ATM machine in Rahimyar Khan town.

Police said Ayubi died of cardiac arrest but his relatives rejected the claim.

“I have washed my son’s body for burial. My younger son took the photographs. The body bore severe torture marks,” Ayubi’s father Mohammad Afzal told media in Lahore on Sept. 5.

“I reject the police report and appeal to Punjab’s chief minister to order a judicial inquiry in Lahore. I wasn’t even told about the death of my son and only came to know about this through the media.”

In a second incident on Sept. 3, Christian youth Amir Masih died from wounds allegedly inflicted by police torture. 

Masih, a gardener in Lahore, was arrested by police on theft charges. As his condition deteriorated during interrogation, he was taken to hospital, where he died.

Amir’s brother Zahid Masih said his brother had volunteered to go to police to prove his innocence, but he was taken into custody and tortured to death.

“He was brutally beaten and electrocuted. His whole body turned black. Even an animal cannot stand such torture,” Zahid told ucanews.com.

Police have registered a case against six police officers over the death of Masih.

Meanwhile, Pakistan’s independent rights body has called for legal steps to ban police torture.

“The Human Rights Commission of Pakistan has taken serious note of at least four incidents involving suspects’ deaths in police custody. Earlier, in August, the HRCP investigated reports that two young Hindu boys in Mirpur Khas — accused of murder — were allegedly subjected to torture while in custody, resulting in their deaths,” it said in a statement.

“Yet torture and ill-treatment in custody are entrenched practices that are considered at best acceptable and at worst necessary. Moreover, there are invariably delays in the post-mortem reports that should follow on the heels of any allegations of custodial death.”

The rights body demanded that respect for the inviolability of human rights must be embedded into police training and structures.

“Moreover, such efforts need to be bolstered by an enforceable legal framework that criminalizes torture, something on which the state must not procrastinate any longer,” it said.

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