CJP Qazi Faez Isa Urged To Take Notice Of Alleged 'Enforced Disappearance', Torture Of Hassan Niazi

The letter was penned by Hassan's father, Hafeezullah Niazi and was supported by dozens of prominent journalists

CJP Qazi Faez Isa Urged To Take Notice Of Alleged 'Enforced Disappearance', Torture Of Hassan Niazi

Chief Justice of Pakistan Qazi Faez Isa has been urged to take notice of the alleged 'secret detention' and 'enforced disappearance' of Barrister Hassan Khan Niazi.

This was urged in a letter by Hassan's father, Hafeezullah Khan Niazi and was signed by more than a score of senior journalists.

In the letter, CJP Isa is informed that Hassan was arrested by police on August 13, 2023, over his alleged role in the May 9 and 10 riots. A few days later, on August 17, he was reportedly handed over to the military pending trial before a military court. It is pertinent to note here that Hassan is also a nephew of former prime minister and Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) Chairman Imran Khan.

"Since then, Barrister Niazi's whereabouts are unknown," the letter read, adding, "the concerned authorities are not allowing his family access to him and have even denied them basic information regarding his well-being."

The letter argued that Barrister Niazi was entitled to his fundamental rights, including of defence and engaging a lawyer of his choice, but this is being denied.

"The concealment of the fate or whereabouts of Barrister Niazi places him outside the protection of the law and makes him a victim of enforced disappearance," the letter read.

Hafeezullah reminded CJP Isa that the Supreme Court deemed enforced disappearances "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 letter added that the Islamabad High Court had also deemed enforced disappearances "one of the most heinous crimes and cannot be justified on any ground whatsoever".

The author claimed that Hassan's treatment blatantly disregards the assurances given by the Attorney General of Pakistan to the apex court over the constitutionality of military trial of civilians that detainees will be provided access to telephonic communication with nominated members of their respective families. Moreover, a weekly visitation schedule will be set up, and detainees can appoint private counsel of their choice.

"We are also concerned about Barrister Niazi's health and safety, as there are reports he is being subjected to torture and ill-treatment in custody," the letter noted.

It referred to an observation by the Islamabad High Court that secret detention makes detainees particularly vulnerable to torture and other cruel and inhumane treatment as they are completely at the mercy of the perpetrators, 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. 

Noting that the perpetrators of the May 9 and 10 riots must be brought to justice, it argued that this must be done after transparent, fair trials in accordance with the law.

"We have faith in our judicial system, and we are sure that the courts will ensure there is accountability for the crimes that were committed," it said.

However, it noted that in pursuit of "justice", gross violations of human rights of a suspect and his family are unconscionable and make a complete mockery of the rule of law and due process. 

CJP Isa was urged to direct the relevant authorities to allow Barrister Niazi's family access to him and to direct an independent medical evaluation to rule out any concerns of torture or other ill-treatment.

The letter was signed by several prominent journalists, editors and commentators including the likes of Arif Hameed Bhatti, Asma Shirazi, Aslam Khan, Hamid Mir, Haroonur Rasheed, Hasan Nisar Imtiaz Alam, Javed Choudary, Jugnu Mohsin, Kamran Khan, Kashif Abbasi, Mazhar Abbas, Mehmal Sarfraz, Mehr Bukhari, Mubashir Lucman, Mohammad Malick, Mujeebur Rehman Shami, Muneeb Farooq, Muzamal Suharwardy, Nadeem Malik, Najam Sethi, Nasim Zehra, Rauf Klasra, Raza Rumi, Reema Imer, Rizwan Razi Sajjad Mir, Salim Bokhari, Suhail Warraich, Syed Talat Hussain, Wajahat Masood, Yasir Shami and others.