Islamabad, June 29: A court in Pakistan has strongly denounced the running of illegal detention centres by the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) and other intelligence and law-enforcing agencies of the country.
While hearing cases of 280 missing persons Thursday, Chief Justice Dost Muhammad Khan of the Peshawar High Court observed that the courts in the country would no longer tolerate running of such centres, The News International reported.
"It has come into my notice that there are secret detention centres in the no-go areas of the provincial metropolis but none of the law-enforcing agencies is taking action in this regard," the chief justice was quoted as saying.
He said that he has received information that many citizens were being illegally detained in such illegal detention centres in Ghallanai, the headquarters of Mohmand Agency, Orakzai, Bajaur and Kurram agencies.
A division bench, comprising Justice Khan and Justice Asadullah Khan Chamkani, reissued a notice to Pakistan's defence ministry, justice and law division and judge advocate general branch of the Pakistan Army, seeking explanation of the legality of the secret detention centres being run by the ISI, the Military Intelligence and other agencies.
Stating that the heavens would have fallen had this happened in any other country, the division bench directed the agencies to trace all the persons reported missing failing which the court would be forced to direct filing of first information reports (FIRs) against these agencies' officers and other personnel.
The bench also reminded that the court had already ordered that there should be no detention centre in the province and the tribal belt except the government-notified internment centres set up for detaining hard-core militants in the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA) and the Provincially Administered Tribal Areas (PATA) under the Actions (in Aid of Civil Power) Regulations, 2011.
When Deputy Attorney General (DAG) Muzammil Khan said that the relatives of the missing persons, on the one hand were fighting with the security forces and on the other filing petitions for the safe recovery of such persons, Justice Khan said that the courts were aware of this and never wanted any relief for hard-core militants, the newspaper reported.
At the same time, he said the law-enforcing agencies should deal with such people under the Actions (in Aid of Civil Power) Regulations, 2011, and stated that there was no mention of secret detention centres in the regulations.
The DAG said that, of the 280 persons reported missing, the ministries concerned had no information on 177 of them while nine persons reported missing have been transferred to different internment centres as they were hard-core militants.
He also sought more time to trace the whereabouts of the 177 persons mentioned.
Capital City Police Officer Liaqat Ali Khan, who also appeared during the hearing, said that some secret detention centres were not under his jurisdiction as these had been established in the tribal areas.
Justice Khan then told the police officer that if the court pointed out such detention centres in his jurisdiction, he would have to take action against them.
July 23 has been fixed as the next date for hearing into the cases.