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Human Rights

Pakistan's army accused of abuses

Pakistan's army and the Taliban have been charged with serious abuses in a report by Amnesty International. Lack of due process, arbitrary arrests and deaths in custody were among the criticisms in the paper.

Pakistan's army is committing human rights abuses in the northwestern Tribal Areas bordering Afghanistan, Amnesty International said Thursday.

In a newly-released report, “The Hands of Cruelty” - Abuses by Armed Forces and the Taliban in Pakistan's Tribal Areas,” which was compiled based on interviews with witnesses, victims, officials, lawyers and militants, among others, Amnesty International said that Pakistan's armed forces had arbitrarily arrested thousands, at times denying them access to due process.

“After a decade of violence, strife and conflict, tribal communities are still being subjected to attack, abduction and intimidation, rather than being protected,” said Polly Truscott, Amnesty International's Deputy Asia Pacific Director.

“By enabling the Armed Forces to commit abuses unchecked, the Pakistani authorities have given them free rein to carry out torture and enforced disappearance,” said Truscott.

The report also detailed cases of detainees dying in custody.

“Almost every week the bodies of those arrested by the Armed Forces are being returned to their families or reportedly found dumped across the Tribal Areas,” said Truscott.

Taliban guilty too

The report poured equal criticism on the Taliban for unlawful killings and capturing soldiers and suspected spies.

“Tribal communities live in abject fear of deadly reprisals on the merest suspicion of supporting the Pakistan state, or even, like the brave young activist Malala Yousafzai, just trying to defend her right to an education,” Truscott said.

Officials within Pakistan's military contacted by AFP refrained from comment until they had fully read the report.

The northwestern Tribal Areas in Pakistan are notoriously dangerous, and have for years been a haven for militants, including al Qaeda and the Taliban. The United States also targets the area with drones but such use of unmanned aircraft is controversial. One estimate puts drone casualties between June 2004 and September 2012 at up to 3,325, of which up to 881 were civilians.

sej/jm (AFP)