By Muhammad Luqman
The Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP) has expressed concern over the use of stun batons in the textile city of Faisalabad by district administration and local police to enforce Covid-19-related standard operating procedures (SOPs).
” This is in flagrant violation of both Article 14 of the Constitution of Pakistan and the UN Convention Against Torture, to which Pakistan is a state party,” according to a statement issued by HRCP on Tuesday.
On Saturday last , the district administration and police in Faisalabad were witnessed using stun batons on the roads against those flouting Covid-19 SOPs, especially those who were not wearing masks.
“The use of stun batons and similar implements clearly carries state endorsement if the police have been equipped with them, even though there is no sanction for this in Pakistani law. The practice amounts to torture and the disproportionate use of force – both prohibited under international human rights instruments,” the human rights watchdog said in the statement.
HRCP obvserved , ‘nor is this the first time that law enforcement agencies have used regressive measures to enforce Covid-19-related SOPs: it was common to hear of people being made to assume humiliating positions if suspected of violating the earlier lockdown’
The prohibition on torture and cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment is absolute and cannot be justified under any circumstances – including the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic. The crisis must not be tackled at the expense of human rights – this is not an ‘either/or’ situation, it added.
“HRCP strongly urges the Punjab government and Punjab police to investigate this matter and hold to account the officers and district government personnel concerned,” the statement concluded.