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PAKISTAN – Human rights not addressed adequately, UN experts say

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The Pakistani government's adherence to international agreements, especially the ones on human rights, is "alarming", said the UN Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination.

Pakistan's periodic report on its implementation of the International Convention on the Elimination of all Forms of Racial Discrimination was presented on 20 February 2009 to the committee.

Chris Maina Peter, an Expert of the committee, also said that many issues were not adequately addressed in the report: the provision of recent data on ethnic composition, recent statistics on asylum seekers and refugees, and the implementation of the committee's previous recommendations. Peter further questioned why the country has not ratified the 1951 refugee convention, as well as the 1960 protocol on refugees.

There are over 20 instruments, which the Pakistani government was member to. Little monitoring and reporting cast doubt on its ability to address human rights issues. It was also noted that the Pakistani government has not made enough effort to establish a national human rights commission.

In his report to the committee, Zamir Akram, Permanent Representative of Pakistan to the United Nations Office at Geneva, said that the groundwork had been completed for the establishment of an independent human rights commission. It is expected that the national human rights commission will be established by July this year. Experts on the committee, however, pointed out that it had been five years since Pakistan said to establish a national commission, with its draft legislation set in December 2004.

While there were some formal systems in place for representation of minorities in government, the UN committee noted that some groups are still underrepresented. For instance, Seraikis have no seats at national and provisional assemblies, even if they constitute the third largest minority in the country. The same applies for the Balochis; their formal competences are only in documents and not reality.

The UN committee noted that tribal areas had been neglected outside the area of economic and social development. Women's literacy is as low as 3 percent, and many suffer more discrimination in tribal areas. Although Pakistani representatives only said it is difficult to solve the issues of violence and disappearance of women in Balochistan.

For more information, please click here to visit the UN website.