Written By NAFSO on Saturday, January 23, 2016 | 6:10:00 PM
On 16 January 2016, human rights defender Mr Saeed Baloch was arrested by Pakistani special forces in Karachi and detained at an unknown location. No official charges have as of yet been brought against him.
Saeed Baloch is a prominent civil society activist and the Secretary General of Pakistan Fisherfolk Forum (PFF), a non-governmental organisation based in Karachi, which works to advance the social, economic, cultural and political rights of fishermen and indigenous fishing communities in Pakistan. He is also an employee of the Fishermen Cooperative Society (FCS)'s labour union.
Saeed Baloch's arrest on 16 January 2016 was allegedly carried out by members of the Pakistani special force unit known as the Rangers. Under the Anti-Terrorism Act, the Rangers are authorised to detain a person for up to three months on suspicion of involvement in terrorist activities without official charges being brought against them. Law enforcement agencies in Pakistan are yet to respond to inquiries regarding the arrest and detention of Saeed Baloch. The whereabouts of the human rights defender remain unknown.
The arrest of Saeed Baloch adds to the previous persecution of members of the Fishermen Cooperative Society. In June 2015, Mr Sultan Qamar Siddiqui, Mr Muhammad Khan Chachar and Mr Rana Shahid, the directors of the organisation, were arrested for their alleged involvement in extortion, killing, corruption and funding criminal syndicates in the Karachi. Three further members of the organisation are currently wanted by police on the basis of the same allegations.
Front Line Defenders condemns the arrest of human rights defender Saeed Baloch, which it believes to be directly linked to his peaceful and legitimate work in the protection of rights of fishermen and indigenous fishing communities in Pakistan.