ALERT: Death of Muslim cleric while in police custody
24th August 2004
Islamic Human Rights Commission
Bush-led “War on Terror” claims international civil and human rights as its victim in Pakistan, as cleric dies in suspicious circumstances.
On 18th August 2004, Muslim cleric Qari Muhammad Noor died in police custody, having been arrested by the Pakistani police in Faisalabad a week earlier for his alleged links to the al-Qaeda network. The details of his detainment, however, were held secret, and it is not known whether Qari was being held by the police or another state agency. What is known, however, is that he was brought under police escort to a hospital where he later died, apparently of heart failure, according to chief of police Abid Saeed (Reuters). Although a post-mortem’s findings has been withheld from the public, various human rights groups have said that his body bore marks of torture. A statement read out by a religious political party spokesman in Faisalabad alleged that Qari was beaten in detention and had nearly 180 marks on his body.
This is of grave concern to IHRC, since torture, whatever the circumstances, is indirect contravention of Pakistan’s obligations under international law, particularly the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. It is also illegal under the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, and the Convention Against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment. However, Pakistan has failed to sign up for either of these conventions, which include those fundamental human rights that Pakistan is obliged to observe under the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
Unfortunately, however, Pakistan is increasingly turning to torture and state-sponsored repression as part of its war on terror. IHRC is therefore calling on the British government to pressure the Pakistani government not only to sign up to these conventions, but to employ transparency and fairness in all its investigations, and to uphold the rule of law.
UK campaigners can write to Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, Jack Straw, to ask him to fulfill his commitment to promoting democracy and human rights abroad by urging the Pakistani government to honour its obligations to civil and human rights by refrain from the use of violence. A sample letter is provided below.
Rt. Hon. Jack Straw MP
Foreign & Commonwealth Office,
King Charles Street,
London SW1A 2AH
Dear Mr. Straw,
Re: Pakistan and death of Qari Muhammad Noor
I am writing in regards to the death of Muslim cleric Qari Muhammad Noor while being held on suspicion of alleged links with the al-Qaeda network. I am deeply concerned by the charges of torture put forward by a number of human rights groups, which apparently led to his death. There has been no subsequent investigation into the events surrounding his death, and those responsible for maltreatment will have escaped prosecution.
Britain has a duty to the members of the Commonwealth, in ensuring that they remain grounded in democratic principles such as transparency and equality before the law, and dedicated to the promotion and protection of human rights, as defined by international law. Britain has been particularly vocal in recent times, in regards the gross human rights transgressions perpetrated in Zimbabwe; why should you then falter in Pakistan?
The escalating reliance on torture by the Pakistani police and armed forces requires an immediate response from the British government; instead, its embarrassingly noticeable silence on this matter does nothing for British credibility in the international community, and makes a mockery of its commitment for the promotion of democracy and good governance abroad. I sincerely hope that you work towards correcting this.
For more information please contact, (+44) 20 8904 4222 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Islamic Human Rights Commission
PO Box 598
Telephone (+44) 20 8904 4222
Fax (+44) 20 8904 5183