New York: Pakistan should ensure a judicial inquiry into police shootings of rock-throwing protesters in Lahore, and also order an impartial probe into the possible unnecessary use of lethal force, Human Rights Watch said today.
On June 17, 2014, police fired without warning on supporters of the Pakistan Awami Tehreek (PAT) political party who had attempted to resist police demolition of security barriers erected by PAT in front of its headquarters in the Lahore residential area of Model Town.
The media reported that at least eight PAT members are confirmed killed by gunshot wounds. Another media account citing medical staff at Lahore’s Jinnah Hospital reported that another 80 PAT members were injured, including 40 with bullet wounds.
Hospital sources reportedly recorded 17 police personnel among the injured. Local media reports that Punjab Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif has ordered a judicial inquiry into the incident.
“The Pakistani authorities need to explain why police officers found it necessary to fire live ammunition directly into a crowd of protesters throwing rocks. There are a lot of dead and wounded people in Lahore today, and no clear reason why,” said Brad Adams, Asia director at Human Rights Watch.
The PAT political party is headed by Tahirul Qadri, an opposition politician and Muslim cleric.
The United Nations Basic Principles on the Use of Force and Firearms by Law Enforcement Officials, which set out international law on the use of force in law enforcement situations, provide that security forces shall as far as possible apply non-violent means before resorting to the use of force.
Whenever the lawful use of force is unavoidable the authorities should use restraint and act in proportion to the seriousness of the offense. Lethal force may only be used when strictly unavoidable to protect life.
Under the Basic Principles, in cases of death or serious injury, appropriate agencies are to conduct a review and a detailed report is to be sent promptly to the competent administrative or prosecutorial authorities.