The International Day in Support of Victims of Torture is observed on June 26th each year to commemorate the UN Convention Against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman, or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (UNCAT), which came into force in 1987. Pakistan became a signatory to the UNCAT in 2008 and ratified it in 2010 to obtain duty-free access to the European market. However, the legal definition of torture in Pakistan differs from the UNCAT definition, as it does not include mental torture. The country’s anti-torture law also lacks clear penalties for offenders and a mechanism for compensating victims. It is crucial for stakeholders to understand the implications of the UNCAT definition to protect victims’ rights. Comparisons with other South Asian countries that have similar legislation show that Pakistan’s law can be improved in terms of defining torture, giving legal priority to the legislation, providing compensation to victims, and educating law enforcement officials. The law’s implementation also requires independent bodies and trained stakeholders for effective investigation and enforcement. Pakistan’s legislation should be aligned with the UNCAT standards to ensure the eradication of torture and better protection for victims.
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