Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Serious rights concerns persist in Pakistan: EU

https://www.dawn.com/news/1364519

Amin AhmedUpdated October 18, 2017

0

ISLAMABAD: The European Union says that despite some institutional and legal measures taken by the government of Pakistan in 2016, wide-ranging and serious human rights concerns persist in the country, and that they are exacerbated by a weak criminal justice system, religious extremism and militancy.

“Security challenges have continued to slow progress on access to justice and the rule of law,” says the EU annual report on ‘human rights and democracy in the world in 2016’ approved by the EU Council on Monday.

“The rule of law remains uncertain on much of the country’s territory, and access to justice remains limited. Pakistan continued to execute a high number of convicts during 2016, however far fewer than in the previous year,” the report says.

In Pakistan, there are persistently huge differences in the situation of upper and lower class citizens, and of women living in cities or the countryside. Pakistan remained one of the most difficult places to be a child due to lack of education, child marriages and child labour. Religious minorities still live in fear of persecution and violence. Discrimination and violence against women continued to be widespread.

European Union report says country’s security challenges continue to slow progress on access to justice


The report says that “self-censorship and intimidation are widespread in Pakistan, whereas the country is considered one of the world’s most dangerous places to be a journalist”. Criticism of armed forces and the security establishment is severely restricted, it says.

Human rights defenders, lawyers and health workers involved in polio vaccination also continued to be targets of violent attacks. A new restrictive Cybercrime Act was adopted and NGOs and INGOs are under heavy pressure, including with regard to registration.

The report says that Pakistan has made serious efforts to participate in the ‘GSP Plus’ process through a better focus on trying to show effective implementation of the 27 conventions and addressing shortcomings.

However, considerable implementation challenges clearly remains, due in part to the devolution of many areas of competence to the provinces. More progress is needed on the ground, through the effective implementation across all the provinces and territory of Pakistan.

The human rights institutions need to become autonomous and fully operational. The role played by civil society, including NGOs and INGOs, in development and humanitarian assistance in a democratic society needs to be further enhanced, it says.

The EU raised its concerns consistently in its human rights dialogues with the government of Pakistan and urged it to take concrete action. ‘GSP Plus’ had some impact in terms of enhancing the reform process. Pakistan also became more open to Universal Periodic Review (UPR) reporting.

The EU used its development portfolio to support democratic institutions, the rule of law, women’s and children’s rights and freedom of religion or belief. The EU is a major donor and international stakeholder in this field.

Published in Dawn, October 18th, 2017

https://eeas.europa.eu/sites/eeas/files/annual_report_on_human_rights_and_democracy_in_the_world_2016_0.pdf

Islamic Republic of Pakistan


Despite some institutional and legal measures taken by the government in 2016, wide-ranging 

and serious human rights concerns persist in Pakistan and are exacerbated by a weak criminal 

justice system and religious and militant extremism. Security challenges have continued to 

slow progress on access to justice and the rule of law. 

In 2016, the EU’s priorities remained freedom of expression, women’s rights and 

gender equality, freedom of religion or belief, the rule of law and access to justice, and 

the death penalty. The EU was also actively involved in the protection of human rights 

defenders. 

Self-censorship and intimidation are widespread. Pakistan is considered one of the world’s 

most dangerous places to be a journalist. Criticism of the armed forces and the security 

establishment is severely restricted. Human rights defenders, lawyers and health workers 

involved in polio vaccination also continued to be targets of violent attacks. A new restrictive 

Cybercrime Act was adopted and NGOs and INGOs are under heavy pressure, including 

with regard to registration. Discrimination and violence against women continued to be 

widespread. In Pakistan, there are persistently huge differences in the situation of upper 

and lower class citizens, and of women living in cities or the countryside. Pakistan remained 

one of the most difficult places to be a child (due to lack of education, child marriages and 

child labour). Religious minorities in Pakistan still live in fear of persecution and violence. 

Discrimination and violence against the Ahmadi community were again reported. Reports 

of extrajudicial killings, disappearances, torture and illegal detention have also continued. 

The rule of law remains uncertain on much of the country’s territory, and access to justice 

remains limited. Pakistan continued to execute a high number of convicts during the year, 

however far fewer than in the previous year. These reportedly included juveniles and people 

suffering from mental illnesses, although three cases (involving mental illness or disability) 

were stayed.


In February 2016 an Electoral Follow-up Mission visited Pakistan. In December a parliamentary 

committee on electoral reform finalised a draft reform package, which is to be adopted in the 

months ahead and has incorporated a significant number of the Election Observation Mission 

recommendations.

There is increased attention to women’s empowerment (at least in terms of legislation, with 

the laws on honour crimes and on violence against women), to children’s rights (on labour and 

bonded child labour) and to labour rights; whilst the power of religious extremists is being 

loosely contained. In February the government adopted a national action plan to improve the 

human rights situation in Pakistan, the first of its kind, but implementation remains a challenge. 

During the year the National Commission on Human Rights also gained some new powers.

The EU is in continual contact with HRDs and monitors threats against them. Critical cases are 

referred to the EU Protect Defenders programme. Intervention on their behalf is hampered by 

the fact that assistance is limited by time and resource constraints and foreign help can often 

turn against them. The EU Delegation and missions closely followed a number of individual 

cases likely to involve human rights violations. The EU raised its concerns consistently in 

its human rights dialogues with the government of Pakistan and called on Pakistan to take 

concrete action. GSP+ had some impact in terms of enhancing the reform process. Pakistan 

also became more open to UPR reporting. 

The EU used its development portfolio to support democratic institutions, the rule of law, 

women’s and children’s rights and freedom of religion or belief. The EU is a major donor 

and international stakeholder in this field. A new programme on strengthening provincial 

assemblies was launched in November 2016. Under the EIDHR grant the EU supports CSOs in 

its strategic priority areas, with a special focus on gender equality and freedom of religion and 

belief. With regard to access to justice, the EU is supporting actions to improve the criminal 

justice chain in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Punjab. Pakistan is also one of the beneficiaries of 

the EU financed project under the EIDHR on ‘Support for trading partners including GSP+ 

beneficiary countries to effectively implement ILS and comply with reporting obligations’.

Pakistan was a member of the Human Rights Council (HRC) from 2013 to 2015 but failed to win 

re-election to the Council in 2016. Pakistan has not issued a standing invitation to UN Special 

Procedure mandate holders. Several requests for visits from Special Rapporteurs are pending. 

Pakistan participated in the 72nd CRC (May 2016) and the 90th session of the CERD (August 2016).

Both terrorism and the fight against it are raising additional and specific human rights 

challenges that require international attention. 

Pakistan made serious efforts to participate in the GSP+ process through a better focus on 

trying to show effective implementation of the 27 conventions and addressing shortcomings. 

Considerable implementation challenges clearly remain, due in part to the devolution of many 

areas of competence to the provinces. More progress is needed on the ground, through the 

effective implementation across all the provinces and territory of Pakistan. The human rights 

institutions need to become autonomous and fully operational. The role played by civil society, 

including NGOs and INGOs, in development and humanitarian assistance in a democratic society 

needs to be further enhanced.

No comments:

Post a Comment