Monday, June 27, 2005

State Sanctioned Thugs?

Freedom House, a well-known pro-Democracy organisation founded by Eleanor Roosevelt in 1941, had this to say about Pakistan’s police force:

Anecdotal evidence suggested that police continue to routinely engage in crime; use excessive force in ordinary situations; arbitrarily arrest and detain citizens; extort money from prisoners and their families; accept money to register cases on false charges; rape female detainees and prisoners; commit extrajudicial killings; and torture detainees, often to extract confessions. Political opponents, former government officials, and other critics of the regime are particularly at risk of arbitrary arrest or abduction, torture, and denial of basic due process rights at the hands of military authorities, according to Human Rights Watch. Prison conditions continue to be extremely poor. A report issued in November by Amnesty International noted that the Juvenile Justice System Ordinance of 2000 remains largely unimplemented and several thousand children continue to be jailed alongside adults.
Interestingly, two days ago ordinary citizens of Karachi were seen on TV stridently criticizing the role played by the Police in the distribution of heroin in the city. Many complained that because of the pressure of payoffs demanded by their superiors, local SHO’s had struck deals with the heroin gangs promising not to interfere in their operations in return for large sums of cash.

Ever wondered as to why no government – civilian or military – has ever bothered to reform the police?

The answer may lie in the fact that each government has relied on the police to harass and brutalize its political opponents into submission.

An obedient police force has therefore always been more important than one that is upright and competent.

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