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“This Crooked System”: Police Abuse and Reform in Pakistan



Human Rights Watch
September 2016


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This report documents custodial torture, extrajudicial executions, and other serious human rights violations by the police in Pakistan. It details the difficulties that victims of crime and police abuse face in obtaining justice, including the refusal by police to register complaints (known as First Information Reports or FIRs), their demands for bribes, and biased investigations. The poor and other vulnerable or marginalized groups invariably face the greatest obstacles to obtaining justice in a system that is rigged against them. It also examines limitations, including financial and human resource constraints, which police say impact their ability to function properly, and looks at examples of some good police practices that can serve as possible models for the future.

Several police officers who spoke to Human Rights Watch openly admitted to the practice of false or faked “encounter killings,” in which police stage an armed exchange to kill an individual already in custody. Such killings may be carried out because of pressure from higher command or local elites, or because the police are not able to gather enough evidence to ensure convictions. Police are rarely held accountable for these killings and families of victims are deterred from filing complaints against police out of fear of harassment or being accused of false charges