Pakistan is facing growing criticism from international human rights groups and bodies for its failure to prevent and punish torture by its Police and other law enforcement agencies. According to Human Rights Watch, Pakistan’s police routinely use torture and other ill-treatment against criminal suspects, especially those from marginalized groups, to extract confessions, information, or bribes. Methods of torture include beatings, sexual violence, sleep deprivation, and mental anguish.
The police torture has been widely seen on innocent people even without having any criminal charges or alleged.
Despite being a party to the United Nations Convention Against Torture, which prohibits the use of torture and other ill-treatment, Pakistan has not enacted a domestic law that makes torture a criminal offense. The country’s constitution also bans the use of torture for extracting evidence, but this provision is rarely enforced. As a result, perpetrators of torture enjoy impunity and victims have little access to justice or redress.
In July 2021, Pakistan’s Senate unanimously approved a bill that would outlaw torture by police and provide for punishment and compensation for victims.
However, the bill faces opposition from some quarters, including the police themselves, who claim that they need to use physical force because they lack training and resources for modern methods of investigation and forensic analysis. Some also argue that torture is necessary to combat terrorism and crime in a country that faces frequent attacks by Islamist militants.
Pakistan’s record on torture has also drawn attention from the international community. In 2020, Pakistan pledged to criminalize torture as part of its candidacy for the UN Human Rights Council. In 2017, the UN Committee against Torture and the Human Rights Committee urged Pakistan to make torture a criminal offense under Pakistani law. In 2020, the European Commission also noted that Pakistan’s legislation falls short of a law specifically defining and criminalizing torture as required under the Convention Against Torture.
Human rights activists and lawyers have called on Pakistan to pass the anti-torture bill without delay and to implement it effectively. They have also demanded that the government hold law enforcement agencies accountable for serious abuses and provide adequate protection and assistance to victims of torture.