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The Amnesty International has expressed concern for the safety of Afghan journalist Sami Yousafzai and his Pakistani driver Muhammad Saleem who had "disappeared" on April 21
Sunday, May 23, 2004
PESHAWAR, May 22: The Amnesty International has expressed concern for the safety of Afghan journalist Sami Yousafzai and his Pakistani driver Muhammad Saleem who had "disappeared" on April 21.
The international agency has described the incident as a violation of the Constitution and international human rights standards.
In an urgent action call given to human rights activists across the world, the rights body has requested them to write to the authorities concerned, including President of Pakistan, and urge them to disclose where and in whose custody the two detainees had been kept.
The Amnesty International stated that the families of the detainees "have been unable to establish their whereabouts" and "fear they may be at risk of torture or ill-treatment."
The human rights body notes: "The 'disappearance' of Sami Yousufzai and Mohammad Salim violates a number of human rights guaranteed in the Constitution of Pakistan and international human rights standards."
The Constitution of Pakistan states in Article 9: "No person shall be deprived of life and liberty, save in accordance with law."
It lays down in Article 10 that every detainee has the right to be informed of the charges against them, to consult and be defended by a lawyer of his choice and be brought before a magistrate within 24 hours of arrest. None of these requirements have been fulfilled in the case of Sami Yousufzai and Mohammad Salim, the human rights body said.
The Amnesty International added that by possibly transferring the two detainees to areas outside the jurisdiction of the provincial high courts, the authorities "have also denied them the right to have the lawfulness of their detention examined by a high court."
Under Article 199 of the Constitution of Pakistan, provincial high courts have the power to direct "that a person in custody within the territorial jurisdiction of the Court be brought before it so that the Court may satisfy itself that he is not being held in custody without lawful authority or in an unlawful manner".
The Amnesty held that the tribal areas "are outside the jurisdiction of any of the country's high courts." There are also concerns for their safety given the widespread use of torture and cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment in detention in Pakistan.
The activists have been called upon to express their fear for the safety of the detainees and ask the authorities to ensure that Sami Yousufzai and Mohammad Salim will not be subjected to torture or to other forms of cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment if they are in custody;
Authorities were asked to release the detainees immediately and unconditionally if there were no criminal charges against them.
Date Posted: 5/23/2004