Skip to main content

UN panel recommends ‘drastic steps’ to improve Pakistan’s HR record

Hassan Belal ZaidiJuly 28, 2017



ISLAMABAD: The UN Human Rights Committee on Thursday called on Pakistan to repeal or amend all blasphemy laws, abolish the death penalty, and criminalise enforced disappearances to end the practice of secret detention.

The recommendations came after the conclusion of the review of Pakistan’s commitments under the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), which was held in Geneva earlier this month.

In a 51-point report, the UN panel observed that Pakistan “should adopt all... measures necessary to ensure that the National Commission for Human Rights (NCHR) is able to carry out its mandate fully and in an effective and independent manner”.

It also called for strengthening the commission to ensure that it was able to investigate all allegations of rights violations committed by any official entity.


Geneva-based review seeks end to blasphemy law, death penalty and enforced disappearances

The UN body encouraged Islamabad to expedite the adoption of laws relating to violence against women that were under consideration at the federal and provincial levels and called for effective enforcement of anti-honour killing and anti-rape laws, as well as those criminalising domestic violence.

It also stressed that the government should enforce the prohibition of “the application of qisas and diyat laws to so-called honour-related crimes and continue to regulate and supervise jirgas”.

With regards to capital punishment, the UN panel wanted Pakistan to “reinstate the moratorium and consider abolishing the death penalty”.

In case the death penalty was retained, the panel warned that “No person who was below 18 years of age at the time of the commission of an offence [should be] subjected to the death penalty” and cautioned against awarding the sentence to those with serious psychosocial or intellectual disabilities.

On enforced disappearances, the panel noted that the government should ensure that all allegations of enforced disappearances and extrajudicial killings are promptly and thoroughly investigated and urged the state to provide protection to the families of disappeared persons, their lawyers and witnesses. Empowering the Commission of Inquiry on Enforced Disappearances was also stressed.

The report also asks the government to “review the Anti-Terrorism Act with a view to aligning the definition of terrorism... in accordance with international standards” and remove the jurisdiction of the anti-terrorism courts over juvenile offenders. It also asks Pakistan to review the legislation regarding military courts for terrorism suspects.

With regards to religious freedoms, the panel urged the government to ensure that all those who incite or engage in violence against others based on allegations of blasphemy, and those who falsely accuse others of blasphemy, are brought to justice. It also asks the country to fully implement the judgement of its Supreme Court, handed down on June 19 2014 in the Peshawar church attack case, which held that “each citizen of Pakistan is free to exercise the right to profess, practise or propagate his or her religious views, even against the prevailing or dominant views of his or her own religious denomination or sect”.

The UN panel also called on Islamabad to expedite the adoption of a national refugee law, in compliance with international standards and said the state should investigate all allegations of abuse against refugees by police and security forces.

Special emphasis, however, has been placed on three subject areas and Pakistan has been asked to provide information on the implementation of recommendations made on the death penalty, enforced disappearance and freedom of religion.

Human Rights Watch representative Saroop Ijaz told Dawn that Pakistan’s review highlighted how untenable and indefensible the government’s position was on human rights.

“The government’s narrative that Pakistan is facing uniquely exceptional circumstances... has rightfully been rejected,” he said, adding that the government should take this as a warning to uphold international human rights law commitments, particularly because the grant of the GSP-plus status and the credibility of Pakistan’s positions on other international issues is contingent upon implementing the basic standards of international human rights.

Reema Omer of the International Commission of Jurists told Dawn that all recommendations and observations of the UN Human Rights Committee were “highly authoritative” and “must be implemented by the state concerned”.

“In Pakistan’s case, the committee has identified three key areas that require urgent action. Pakistan is now required to report to the committee on steps taken to implement these recommendations within one year, in what is called its ‘follow-up procedure’.”

For the remaining observations and recommendations, she said, Pakistan had to respond to the committee by July 2020.

Published in Dawn, July 28th, 2017


Popular posts from this blog

Balochistan to establish first medical university

The Newspaper's Staff CorrespondentOctober 25, 2017QUETTA: The provincial cabinet on Tuesday approved the draft for establishing a medical university in Balochistan.Health minister Mir Rehmat Saleh Baloch made the announcement while speaking at a press conference after a cabinet meeting.“The cabinet has approved the draft of the medical university which would be presented in the current session of the Balochistan Assembly,” he said, adding with the assembly’s approval the Bolan Medical College would be converted into a medical university.Published in Dawn, October 25th, 2017

5 Shia Hazara community members gunned down in Pakistan

Five members of the minority Shia Hazara community, including two women, were killed on Sunday in an attack by unidentified gunmen in Pakistan’s restive Balochistan province.This is not the first time that members of the Hazara community have been targeted in Quetta and other parts of Balochistan.(Reuters File Photo)Updated: Sep 11, 2017 00:20 ISTBy Press Trust of India, Press Trust of India, KarachiFive members of the minority Shia Hazara community, including two women, were killed on Sunday in an attack by unidentified gunmen in Pakistan’s restive Balochistan province.The gunmen targeted a car in Kuchluck area of Quetta while it was coming from the Chaman border crossing area, police said.The firing took place when the travellers had stopped at a filling station to refuel their vehicle. Five people of the Shia Hazara community, including two women, died in …

China’s 'Digital Silk Road': Pitfalls Among High Hopes

Will information and communication technologies help China realize its Digital Silk Road?By Wenyuan WuNovember 03, 2017In his speech at the opening ceremony of China’s 19th Party Congress, President Xi Jinping depicted China as a model of scientific and harmonious development for developing nations. Xi’s China wants to engage the world through commerce but also through environmental protection and technological advancement. This includes Beijing’s efforts to fight climate change with information and communication technologies (ICTs) that it plans to export along its “One Belt One Road” initiative (OBOR). Xi may have ambitious plans, but could China be throwing up obstacles in its own way?In his speech, the Chinese president emphasized the need to modernize the country’s environmental protections. The Chinese state is taking an “ecological civilization” approach to development and diplomacy, with a natio…