Thousands of Pakistani families are bearing the violation of the right to truth. Balochistan has been confronted with the burning issue of missing persons for the past two decades, writes Nizam Hassan for South Aisa Monitor
A faint hope appeared on the horizon when, in 2010, the General Assembly of the United Nations proclaimed March 24 as the International Day for the Right to Truth concerning gross human rights violations.
Since then, March 24 is celebrated across the globe to remind nations about the violations. Many historical and legal documents such as the Geneva Conventions give the right to truth the status of an unalienable right whose violation cannot be justified in any situation.
Historically, the right to truth finds its roots deep down in international humanitarian law, in particular, in regard to the right of families to know the fate of relatives. The principle of the right to know the truth of missing persons, including victims of forced disappearance, is explicitly codified in the international humanitarian law. Further, the Geneva Conventions add multiple provisions that impose obligations on the belligerent parties to take speedy measures to resolve the problems of the missing.
Violating Baloch rights
There are, however, various countries where the violation of the right to truth still remains disproportionately high. Unfortunately, the people of these countries are usually in the dark and have almost no awareness about the right to truth. It won't be wrong to say that those who govern countries torn apart by conflicts, poverty and illiteracy have, wittingly or unwittingly, kept the general public miles away from this right in order to continue encroaching on the right with little or no resistance.
In Pakistan, the right to truth seldom gets encouragement and motivation as it usually becomes the tacit victim of state encroachment. Thousands of Pakistani families are bearing the gross violation of the right to truth. Take the example of Balochistan, the biggest federating unit of the country which nearly forms half of the country with an ideal geostrategic position. It has been confronted with the burning issue of missing persons for the past two decades.
It is very frustrating to mention that on the occasion of the day to the right to truth, Baloch students were on a month-long camp in Islamabad against the enforced disappearance of Hafeez Baloch, who was extra-judiciously taken away from Khuzdar. Hafeez Baloch was an M.Phil scholar of Physics at the Quaid-e-Azam University in Islamabad.
Sammi Baloch along with her family has been passing through a dark tunnel of pain and hopelessness since 2009 when her father was abducted. A decade has passed, and still she does not know the whereabouts and fate of her father, Dr. Deen Mohammad. She was hardly 10 years old when her father was forcefully 'disappeared'. She chants slogans for justice in the chowks and junctions of Pakistan, demanding her father to be brought before the courts if he had done something wrong. Similarly, there are hundreds and thousands in Pakistan who are bearing the gross violation of the right to truth.
The right to truth is holistically linked with the following rights: the right to an effective remedy; the right to legal and judicial protection; the right to family life; the right to an effective investigation; to obtain reparation; and the right to seek and impart information. Therefore, the violation of the right to truth is tantamount to the violation of all these rights.
The regimes in Pakistan have explicitly failed to tackle the serious issue of the violation of the right to truth; the concerned institutions are not even ready to recognize the issue in true spirit. Last but not the least, the right to truth is, as a stand-alone right, is a fundamental right of the individual and thus should not be subject to limitations and exceptions.
(The writer is a journalist based in Balochistan. Views are personal. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. He tweets at @NizamHassan10)