Pak and US authorities must release info on two missing children of Dr. Aafia

September 23, 2008

A Statement by the Asian Human Rights Commission
WORLD/PAKISTAN: Pakistani and US State authorities must release information on the two children of Dr. Aafia who remain missing

The alleged US arrest in July of Pakistan-US national Dr Aafia Siddiqui has left a series of unanswered questions about her missing children. With Dr Siddiqui now in US custody it is suspected that two of her children are still being detained illegally, and reports suggest that one child may have died. U.S. and Pakistan authorities have denied knowledge of their whereabouts.

Dr Siddiqui went missing from Karachi in March 2003 shortly after an FBI statement was issued, implicating her in terrorist activities. Neither Dr. Siddiqui nor her three children, then aged six months, four and seven- were heard of again, until July 2008, when the US Department of Justice announced the doctor’s arrest in Afghanistan with her eleven-year old son Muhammed Ahmad. The boy disappeared into the system, but sustained protests throughout the world lead to his release to other family members after three months. No official explanation as to his detention has been offered to his family.

No information about the child’s missing younger siblings, Marium, now aged nine and Suleman, five, has been released and the Asian Human Rights Commission is now extremely concerned for their welfare. Transparency in this case, which involves three minors and three state governments, has been disturbingly absent.

The AHRC would like to remind the state authorities in Afghanistan, Pakistan and the United States that they have ratified or signed the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child (UN-CRC). Aside from a shocking lack of consideration for the children’s basic human rights – from their right to life (Article 6) and health (Article 24), protection from maltreatment (Article 19) and to freedom from discrimination regardless of the their parents’ actions (Article 2), we particularly wish to present Article 9 of the UN-CRC;

9.1: State Parties shall ensure that a child shall not be separated from his or her parents against their will, except when competent authorities subject to judicial review, determine, in accordance with applicable law and procedures, that such separation is necessary.

No public judicial review has taken place, no charges made against the missing children, or their formerly detained brother, Master Ahmad.

9.4: Where such separation results from any action initiated by a State Party, such as the detention, imprisonment, exile, deportation or death … of one or both of the parents or of the child, that State Party shall, upon request, provide the parents, the child or, if appropriate, another member of the family with the essential information concerning the whereabouts of the absent members of the family.

The children’s family – their aunt and grandmother in Pakistan, and their uncle in America – have been given no information about the location or welfare of the two children, just as they received none in the case of Ahmad until recently.

The Asian Human Rights Commission is concerned that the children may have been used in the interrogation of their parents (the father being held in Guantanamo Bay), and that they may be at risk because of what they have seen and experienced in Afghan prisons. The AHRC demands the transparency and accountability expected of these UN member states, and it demands the immediate release of the two remaining Siddiqui children.

About AHRC: The Asian Human Rights Commission is a regional non-governmental organisation monitoring and lobbying human rights issues in Asia. The Hong Kong-based group was founded in 1984.

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