LAHORE: The Justice Project Pakistan (JPP) in a press release on Thursday raised concerns that reports in the media based on ‘anonymous sources’ claim the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) has concluded its inquiry into Shafqat Hussain’s age prior to the submission of evidence by his lawyers, who had been summoned to make submissions on April 2.
The Ministry of Interior has not responded to the JPP’s requests for details regarding the inquiry procedure, and they believe this shows a lack of transparency.
The JPP says media reports claim the FIA has “only considered police, jail and court records”, which they believe to be “insufficient evidence to discover Shafqat’s true age”.
A 2015 Supreme Court judgement by Justice Khosa was cited by the JPP: “Recording of an accused person’s age at the time of recording his statement under Section 342 of the Code of Criminal Procedure (CrPC) is invariably based upon a cursory visual assessment which can substantially be off the mark, as proverbially, appearances can be deceptive.”
The JPP maintains that the only official document showing proof of Hussain’s age is his birth certificate — and to discount the evidence in favour of “‘cursory visual assessments which can be substantially off the mark’ brings the veracity of the inquiry into further question”.
In a press conference on Mar 24, Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar Ali had said “At this time, what is on record is that when he went to jail, the jail doctor wrote his age as 25 years, and the jail authorities recorded it as being 23 years.”
He also said that these records had not been contested at any point during the course of trial. “If you have a certificate, bring it to the attention of the interior ministry, bring it to the attention of the committee formed by the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA),” Nisar said.
The JPP has called for an “independent, unbiased inquiry into both Shafqat’s age and the torture he suffered on his arrest”.
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— The Daily Mail - People's Daily