Pak Army, Taleban ‘responsible’ for abuses

Updated 14 December 2012
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Pak Army, Taleban ‘responsible’ for abuses

ISLAMABAD: The Pakistan military and the Taleban are guilty of rights abuses with a lack of justice fuelling a crisis in the tribal areas on the Afghan border, Amnesty International said yesterday.
The military is using new security laws and a colonial-era penal system to act with impunity in the northwestern, semi-autonomous region where Taleban and Al-Qaeda-linked violence is concentrated, the watchdog said.
A spokesman for the military rejected the allegations as a “pack of lies and part of a sinister propaganda campaign” against the armed forces.
The military has arbitrarily detained thousands for long periods with little or no access to due process, said the report, based on interviews with victims, witnesses, relatives, lawyers, officials and militants.
Cases of death and torture have been documented, detainees are not brought before court and relatives have no idea of their fate, sometimes for extended periods of time, said the London-based human rights group.
“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 Polly Truscott, Amnesty’s deputy Asia-Pacific director.
“The government must immediately reform the deeply flawed legal system in the tribal areas that perpetuates the cycle of violence,” she added.
Although judges have sought to investigate the fate of people who go missing, Amnesty said no military personnel had been prosecuted for alleged torture, enforced disappearance or deaths in custody.
A spokesman for the Pakistan military refuted the allegations, calling it a “biased report based on fabricated stories twisted to serve an agenda”.
Amnesty also singled out the Taleban and other militant groups for targeting human rights activists, aid workers, journalists and alleged spies.
It also reported that the Taleban had brutally executed captured Pakistani troops in contravention of international humanitarian law.
Separately, a government official said several hundred students have rallied against naming their college after an activist schoolgirl shot by the Taleban, saying the move would be a security risk.
The Taleban shot and wounded 15-year-old Malala Yousufzai in October in Mingora, the main town in the northwest Swat Valley, because of her criticism of the militant group and her advocacy for girls’ education.
Kamran Rehman, a senior official in Swat, says about 300 students took part in a protest Wednesday at Malala Government Degree College in Mingora.
Rehman said he was investigating whether any particular political group was responsible for the protest.


Malaysia reopens grisly murder case linked to former PM Najib

Updated 9 min 13 sec ago
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Malaysia reopens grisly murder case linked to former PM Najib

KUALA LUMPUR: Malaysian police have reopened an investigation into the grisly murder of a young Mongolian woman in 2006 which has been linked to the country’s ousted leader, reports said Friday.
Altantuya Shaariibuu was shot dead and her body blown up with military-grade plastic explosives near Kuala Lumpur.
The murder was the most shocking aspect in a scandal involving allegations that an associate of recently toppled Prime Minister Najib Razak arranged huge kickbacks for the purchase of French submarines in 2002.
The case captivated Malaysia for years and there have long been allegations that Najib — defense minister at the time of the deal — and his wife Rosmah Mansor were involved. They have steadfastly denied the claims.
Two government bodyguards were convicted of the killing and sentenced to death. One subsequently fled to Australia, where he is in detention, and maintains he was ordered by “important people” to carry out the murder.
Altantuya’s father visited Malaysia this week. He met new Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad, who backed re-opening the investigation, and lodged a fresh police report about the murder.
“I can confirm we are reopening investigations,” national police chief Mohamad Fuzi Harun was cited as saying by The Star newspaper.
“We will conduct our duties without fear or favor.”
Eric Paulsen, head of local rights group Lawyers for Liberty, said that Najib should be among the new witnesses to be interviewed by the police.
“We want to know why Altantuya was killed and who ordered her killing,” he said.
Malaysians broke the six-decade stranglehold on power of Najib’s coalition at elections last month, and voted in a reformist alliance headed by 92-year-old Mahathir.
Altantuya was the mistress of Najib’s associate, Abdul Razak Baginda, and was alleged to have demanded a cut in the submarine deal for translating during negotiations.
Abdul Razak was cleared in 2008 of abetting the murder.
The bodyguard who fled to Australia, Sirul Azhar Umar, recently said he is willing to assist any new government investigation into the case, a potential major breakthrough.