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An open letter to Chief Justice Qazi Faez Isa about enforced disappearance of Hassan Niazi


A group of senior journalists and political commentators on Sunday wrote an open letter to the Chief Justice of Pakistan, Justice Qazi Faez Isa, about the enforced disappearance and violation of the fundamental rights of lawyer and political activist Hassan Khan Niazi and many others like him. 

The letter written by many senior journalists and political commentators like Mujeeb-ur-Rehman Shami, Altaf Hasan Qureshi, Ata ul Haq Qasmi, Abdul Qayyum Siddiqui and Ahmed Bilal Mehboob reads:

“To the Honourable Chief Justice of Pakistan,

Mr Justice Qazi Faez Isa

Supreme Court of Pakistan

23 September 2023

“Urgent appeal regarding the enforced disappearance and other serious human rights violations against Hassan Khan Niazi and other detained persons 

“We are a group of print and electronic media journalists, political commentators, and above all concerned citizens from across Pakistan who are deeply committed to safeguarding constitutionalism, democracy, and the rule of law in the country. 

“We write this letter to you as the custodian of the fundamental rights of the people of Pakistan to bring to your attention serious violations of the Constitution and blatant disregard of the rule of law in the treatment of people accused of involvement in the 9 and 10 May riots. 

“One illustrative case is that of Barrister Hassan Khan Niazi – the son of our colleague Hafeezullah Khan Niazi, who is a longstanding advocate in the media for upholding constitutional and democratic principles. 

“According to news reports, the police arrested Hassan Niazi on 13 August 2023 in relation to the 9 and 10 May violence. On 17 August 2023, his custody was given to the military. Since then, Hassan Niazi’s whereabouts are unknown. The concerned authorities are not allowing his family access to him and have even denied them basic information regarding his wellbeing. Hassan Niazi’s right to defense, including engaginga lawyer of his choice, is also being denied.

“The concealment of the fate or whereabouts of Hassan Niazi places him outside the protection of the law and makes him a victim of enforced disappearance, which the Supreme Court has called “a crime against humanity” and has categorically stated “no law enforcing agency can forcibly detain a person without showing his whereabouts to his relatives for a long period.” 

“The Islamabad High Court too has said enforced disappearance is “one of the most heinous crimes and cannot be justified on any ground whatsoever” and moreover, has acknowledged the anguish, suffering, and environment of uncertainty that the family members of the person in secret detention are put through.

“The treatment of Hassan Niazi is also in blatant disregard of assurances given by the Attorney General of Pakistan to the Supreme Court in the case regarding the constitutionality of military trial of civilians. In the hearing held on 26 June 2023, the Attorney General informed the Court “telephonic communication of the detained civilians with nominated members of their families shall be established” and weekly visitation schedule shall be chalked out.

“And on 21 July, he assured the Supreme Court accused civilians shall have the right to appoint private counsel of their own choice for their defence.

“We are also concerned about Hassan Niazi’s health and safety. As the Islamabad High Court has noted, secret detention makes detainees particularly vulnerable to torture and other cruel and inhumane treatment as they are completely at the mercy of the authorities, without any oversight, accountability, or protection of the law in clear violation of Articles 9, 10A, and 14 of the Constitution and basic principles of humanity. 

“We urge you to direct the relevant authorities to disclose Hassan Niazi’s whereabouts; to allow Hassan Niazi’s family access to him; to allow him to appoint a lawyer of his choice; and to direct that an independent medical evaluation be conducted to address concerns of torture or other ill-treatment.

“We also call on you to ensure all other persons who have been disappeared or are being held in secret or arbitrary detention are placed in official places of detention with access to their family members and in conditions that fully respect their human rights.

“We trust our courts will bring those responsible for the 9 and 10 May riots to justice in accordance with the law. However, in the guise of “accountability”, gross violations of human rights of the accused and their family are unconscionable, and make a complete mockery of the rule of law and due process.

“We have utmost faith and expectation you will take notice of our appeal and act expeditiously to uphold the Constitution, the fundamental rights of the people, and basic democratic values in the country.”





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