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Amnesty International Calls For Fair Treatment Of Imprisoned Pakistani Rights Defender

Pakistani human rights activist Idris Khattak (file photo)
Pakistani human rights activist Idris Khattak (file photo)

Amnesty International has called on the Pakistani government to ensure that a human rights activist who has been reportedly imprisoned following a secret military trial last year benefits from fair treatment and medical care.

Last month, a military court convicted 58-year-old Idris Khattak of espionage and leaking sensitive information to a foreign intelligence agency, sentencing him to 14 years in prison, according to his family and lawyer. His whereabouts are still unknown.

Khattak, a prominent activist who spent years campaigning against enforced disappearances in Pakistan, became the victim of an enforced disappearance himself in 2019 when Pakistani intelligence agents bundled him into a car in broad daylight and whisked him away to an unknown location.

"Idris' family and lawyer have yet to receive any information on the status of his case," Amnesty said in a statement on January 18, adding that his lawyer has raised serious fair trial concerns.

Rights activists have suggested that Khattak was arrested because of his speaking out against the arbitrary detentions and forced disappearances committed by the military, which has an oversized role in domestic and foreign affairs.

Critics say enforced disappearances are being used by Pakistani authorities to stifle dissent.

"The government should ensure Idris' right to a fair trial and to appropriate health care," Amnesty said in its statement, noting that according to his family, the activist has yet to be vaccinated against the coronavirus while being kept in an overcrowded prison.

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