Extra-judicial killings carried out in Swat: leak
In the aftermath of the campaign against the Taliban in Swat, the US becomes aware of massive human rights abuses, including extra-judicial executions, carried out by soldiers, paramilitaries and police. US officials analyst why this occurs – weak judicial systems, a “culture of revenge” – and strategise on how to help the army leadership stop the killings. But they do so in private – public criticism could be counter-productive, they say.
A growing body of evidence is lending credence to allegations of human rights abuses by Pakistan security forces during domestic operations against terrorists in Malakand Division and the Federally Administered Tribal Areas.
While it is oftentimes difficult to attribute with accuracy any responsibility for such abuses, reporting from a variety of sources suggests that Frontier Corps and regular Pakistan Army units involved in direct combat with terrorists may have been involved.
The crux of the problem appears to center on the treatment of terrorists detained in battlefield operations and have focused on the extra-judicial killing of some detainees. The detainees involved were in the custody of Frontier Corps or Pakistan Army units.
The allegations of extra-judicial killings generally do not/not extend to what are locally referred to as “the disappeared” — high-value terrorist suspects and domestic insurgents who are being held incommunicado by Pakistani intelligence agencies including the Inter-Services Intelligence Division (ISI) and Military Intelligence (MI) in their facilities.
2. (S/NF) Revenge for terrorist attacks on Pakistan Army and Frontier Corps personnel is believed to be one of the primary motivating factors for the extra-judicial killings. Cultural traditions place a strong importance on such revenge killings, which are seen as key to maintaining a unit’s honor.
Senior military commanders have equally and repeatedly stressed their concerns that the court’s are incapable of dealing with many of those detained on the battlefield and their fears that if detainees are handed over to the courts and formally charged, they will be released, placing Pakistan Army and Frontier Corps troops at risk.
This fear is well-founded as both Anti-Terrorism Courts and the appellate judiciary have a poor track record of dealing with suspects detained in combat operations such as the Red Mosque operation in Islamabad and have repeatedly ordered their unconditional release. Post assesses that the lack of viable prosecution and punishment options available to the Pakistan Army and Frontier Corps is a contributing factor in allowing extra-judicial killings and other human rights abuses of detained terrorist combatants to proceed. There may be as many as 5000 such terrorist detainees currently in the custody of the Pakistan Army and Frontier Corps from operations in Malakand, Bajaur, and Mohmand. As operations in these areas and other parts of the FATA proceed, this number will increase.
3. (S/NF) NWFP Police have also been implicated in the abuse and extra-judicial killing of terrorist suspects that they believe responsible for attacks on police stations and individuals in the run-up to the conflict. This is a separate problem set from those detained in combat by Frontier Corps and Pakistan Army units. The NWFP Inspector General of Police has publicly announced the establishment of a Human Rights Unit within his office to prevent, investigate, and punish human rights violations committed by his forces.
As a component of the police training program that we are now standing up for the NWFP, post intends to offer assistance to the Inspector General of Police and his new unit on education and prevention of human rights abuses and investigations and prosecutions where abuses are suspected.
4. (S/NF) In an effort to stem extra-judicial killings and other human rights abuses of these detained in combat by Pakistan security forces, post is proposing a multi-pronged approach as follows:
Short Term: — Diplomatic Engagement: Continue to privately raise this issue repeatedly and at the highest levels of the Pakistan government and military. Ensure that expressions of concern over the alleged extra-judicial killings coupled with calls for transparent investigations and, as appropriate, prosecution are included in the talking points of all senior USG civilian and military visitors in meetings with Pakistani civilian and military counterparts. Timeline: Ongoing. Funding: None required.
– Offer Assistance: Coordinate with the British High Commission on an offer of assistance to the Defense Minister and the Chief of Army Staff (COAS). To the Defense Minister propose assistance in drafting a new Presidential Order that would create a parallel administrative track for charging and sentencing terrorists detained by the military in combat operations. Amendments to the Anti-Terrorism Act are already well underway.
To the COAS, propose bringing over a team of American and British experts to evaluate the detainee issue and to determine jointly what assistance is required from coalition partners. If COAS agreement is forthcoming, bring over a team of American military lawyers to meet with Pakistan military officials with a view to obtaining concurrence on training in battlefield evidence collection, investigation and prosecution of human rights abuses by military personnel, and assistance on drafting the new Presidential Order proposed to the Defense Minister: Timeline: Meeting with COAS and Defense Minister by end of September 09.