September 26th, 2020
By Rehan Piracha
The federal government has extended the tenure of the state-appointed Commission of Inquiry on Enforced Disappearances (COIED) for three years despite demands for its replacement with an independent body.
According to a notification issued by the Ministry of Interior, the commission’s tenure has been extended till September 14, 2023. “The federal government is pleased to direct that the following further amendment shall be made in its Notification No. S.R.O. 149(1)/2011, dated Ist March 2011, namely: In the aforesaid Notification, in paragraph 7, for the words “within six months” the expression “by 14th September 2023” shall be substituted,” reads the notification issued on August 7, 2020, a copy of which is available with Voicepk.net.
The current commission is headed by Justice (r) Javed Iqbal who is also the chairman of the National Accountability Bureau. The commission was set up on the orders of the Supreme Court in 2011 to investigate enforced disappearances in the country. The commission’s tenure in the original notification was of six months which has been extended by successive governments. The commission’s tenure was set to expire on September 14 this year but the federal government extended the tenure till September 14. 2023 through a notification a month earlier.
Human rights campaigners have repeatedly called for an independent commission on enforced disappearances saying the COIED had proved itself ineffective in dealing with cases.
COIED chairperson must be replaced, says HRCP Secretary-General
Speaking to Voicepk.net, Harris Khalique, Secretary-General of the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan, called the performance of the COIED dissatisfactory. He said the three years extension given to the present commission showed that the federal government was not serious in addressing the issue of missing persons in the country. Human rights campaigners and family members of missing persons have on many occasions expressed dissatisfaction with the performance of the COIED, headed by Justice (r) Javed Iqbal, he added.
Khalique said the federal government itself had called into question the commission’s effectiveness by the constitution of a parallel body recently in the shape of a cabinet committee on missing persons. He pointed out that the federal government was yet to appoint the chairperson and members of the National Human Rights Commission despite a lapse of one and a half years. The HRCP secretary-general called upon the federal government to immediately replace the chairperson and members of the present commission.
In August, at a webinar, organized by the HRCP to mark the International Day of Enforced Disappearances, I A Rehman had said the present inquiry commission had proved ineffective in dealing with cases of enforced disappearances as its head was now chairman of the National Accountability Bureau. He called for an independent statutory commission to look into cases of enforced disappearances.
In September, the International Commission of Jurists (ICJ) had regretted that the COIED had failed and it’s performance smacked of entrenched impunity, leaving the victims and their loved ones without any redress.