The Pakistani authorities must hold former military ruler Pervez Musharraf accountable for all human rights violations committed during his rule, Amnesty International said Tuesday ahead of a key trial.
Musharraf was expected to be formally charged on Tuesday at an Anti-Terrorism Court in Islamabad with criminal conspiracy and murder related to the December 2007 assassination of former Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto.
However, the court adjourned the hearing as Musharraf was not produced before the court. The judge was unhappy at his non-production.
There are a number of other cases pending against Musharraf, including in relation to the 2006 killing of the Baloch nationalist leader Akbar Bugti, with trials for these expected to follow later in the year.
“It is encouraging to see the courts take the unprecedented step of bringing a former Army Chief to account for his alleged involvement in past human rights violations and crimes under international law. But Musharraf must be held accountable for all violations committed under his rule, not just a select few,” said Polly Truscott, Amnesty International’s Deputy Asia-Pacific Director.
Amnesty International documented a wide range of human rights violations committed during the near 10-year rule of Pervez Musharraf in Pakistan (1999-2008).
“Hundreds, if not thousands, were ‘disappeared’ during Musharraf’s administration in particular human rights activists documenting violations committed by state security forces and members of armed opposition groups. In his final full year in office, 2007, Musharraf also led a clampdown on the judiciary and independent media,“ said Truscott.
As Amnesty International has documented in detail, Pakistan’s security forces continue to be implicated in human rights violations, such as the killing, enforced disappearance and torture of terrorism suspects, political activists and human rights defenders across the country and especially in the northwest tribal areas and Balochistan province.
“No serving or retired member of Pakistan’s security forces is known to have been brought to justice for their alleged involvement in these violations,“ said Truscott.
“It is crucial that Pervez Musharraf – as any other accused in Pakistan – receives a fair, independent and impartial trial without recourse to the death penalty. His human rights must be protected, just like the thousands of other criminal suspects who faced enforced disappearance, torture and other violations during his rule.”