The post-mortem forensic report on the death of an alleged ATM thief Salahuddin Ayubi is a damning one. The report reveals that the body of the dead was tortured before his death. What is there left for the police to say after this? Should we still believe the police account of the death?

The PFSA report is a detailed one and shows that the deceased was subject to torture before his death. The final report has confirmed what this newspaper insisted on all these days, i.e., the victim experienced police torture. The provincial government needs to immediately pass a law that ends torture as a tool of investigation. Unfortunately, our laws lack any deterrence that stops police officials from torturing people. That is why we always hear stories of deaths in police custody and private torture cells that police officials run.

The case in hand highlights the need for why is it necessary for the government of Pakistan to pass laws and make necessary amendments to its current laws against torture. After all, incidents like Salahuddin’s could be only avoided if we move beyond the news cycle and carry out systematic reforms of the criminal justice system. We need to reform our police that has retained its colonial character. It was conceived primarily as an instrument of suppression and control.

Moreover, what is beyond comprehension is the attitude of the higher-ups in the police service. Instead of holding their subordinates accountable for their wrong actions, the police officials try to obstruct impartial investigations. They go an extra mile in protecting their brethren. The case in hand has also shown us the importance of why the enquiries of the police torture cases should be conducted by a third party or an outside agency.

Sadly, torture has been normalized or routinized. As a result, there have been many horrifying incidents, stories and statistics that have consistently come out and made national headlines. A recent report on torture in just one district of Punjab, i.e., Faisalabad District documented 1,424 confirmed cases of torture out of a sample of 1,867 Medico-Legal Certificates (MLCs) compiled by a government-appointed District Standing Medical Board (DSMB) between 2006 and 2012.

Lastly, before the involved police officers are charged and prosecuted, the medical officers at the hospital who backed the police account of the incident and the police spokesperson who pleaded that story must be held accountable as well. One primary reason that such behaviour of police officials goes unpunished is the collusion of the autopsy doctors with the police.