A global human rights watchdog says Pakistani police “routinely and unlawfully” kills criminal suspects.
“In Pakistan, faked “encounter killings” are a particularly common form of extrajudicial killings by police,” a new Human Rights Watch (HRW) report said.
The term “encounter” is a widely used in the subcontinent to identify clashes between criminal suspects and cops – often resulting in killing the suspects.
“An encounter killing occurs when the police justify the killing of a criminal suspect either as an act of self-defense or as a means of preventing suspects from fleeing arrest or escaping from custody,” the report released on September 26 said.
According to HRW, last year the nongovernmental Human Rights Commission of Pakistan documented that over 2,100 people were killed in armed encounters with the police. Most such killings occurred in the eastern province of Punjab.
“In the vast majority of these cases, no police officer was injured or killed, raising questions as to whether there was in fact an armed exchange in which there was imminent threat to the lives of police or others.” the report said.
It added that Pakistani rights campaigners say that the police for “being either trigger happy, or worse still, staging the events to unlawfully kill individuals.”
Human Rights Commission of Pakistan’s monitoring of Pakistani media in 2015 established that a total of 2,108 men and seven women were killed in police encounters.
“In the city of Karachi alone, 696 suspects were killed. In Punjab province, 1,191 men and three women were killed in police encounters,” HRW said.
In its new repot Pakistan: Overhaul Abusive Police Force, HRW has called on Islamabad to reform its police system rife human rights violations.
In the vast majority of these cases, no police officer was injured or killed, raising questions as to whether there was in fact an armed exchange in which there was imminent threat to the lives of police or others.
The report has documented widespread abuses by police in Pakistan and investigated the causes of successive Pakistani government’s failure to reform its ill-equipped police force or bring abusive police officers to justice.
Brad Adams, HRW’s Asia director, says Islamabad can best tackle its grave security challenges by reforming its police to respect rights and be accountable.
“Law enforcement has been left to a police force filled with disgruntled, corrupt, and tired officers who commit abuses with impunity, making Pakistanis less safe, not more,” he noted.