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Pakistan must recognise past human rights abuses by the military-led governments, coalition says

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NGOs, civil society organisations and human rights defenders have called on the Government of Pakistan to stop denying human rights abuses and to repeal all forms of discriminatory clauses from the Constitution and its laws to ensure the country is fully complying with international human rights treaties.

Press release

Pakistani Civil Society Organizations Observing the UPR on Pakistan

2nd Session of the Universal Periodic Review (UPR) Working Group

Pakistani Government’s Denial of Rights Abuses Won’t Help

The national report, presentation and responses to questions from the floor, made by the Pakistani delegation on Thursday, 08 May, 2008, at the second session of the working group on the Universal Periodic Review at the Human Rights Council, raise important and immediate concerns for civil society and human rights defenders in Pakistan.

It was observed that the official delegation led by parliamentarians representing the newly formed government in Islamabad defended the previous government by painting a positive picture of the human rights situation in Pakistan over the past few years. Ironically, this is something against which the political workers belonging to the parties who form the incumbent government themselves have struggled. Only in a matter of a few weeks, a change in stance and espousing a state of denial is seen with both suspicion and disappointment by civil society. It would have perhaps been better for those representing the new government to recognize the oppression in some cases and indifference in others exercised by the military-led governments of the very recent past in dealing with political workers, human rights defenders, lawyers, judges, women, children from poor communities and religious minorities. They should have committed to the speedy realization of human rights in Pakistan rather than denying and shoving under the carpet what continues to happen with the weaker segments of society.

The status of women in Pakistan continues to be undermined by discriminatory laws and also malpractices in the name of culture which the state does little to check. Those belonging to religious minorities face social and economic pressures besides being subjected to hostile laws. The conditions created by the very existence of these laws have had a deeply negative effect on the social fabric of Pakistan, making women and children belonging to minority sects and faiths most vulnerable, physically as well as psychologically.

While the Government delegation claimed praises for accession to international human rights treaties recently, the delegation failed to make an expression of commitment on behalf of the Pakistani Government to introduce and respect implementation mechanisms for internally recognized human rights standards.

The members of Pakistani civil society, NGOs and human rights defenders reiterate their demand for the repeal of Hudood and Zina Ordinances, the Law of Evidence and Blasphemy Law, putting an end to all forms of economic, social and cultural discrimination and making the laws of Pakistan congruent with the international human rights treaties and standards Pakistan has signed (ICCPR, CAT), ratified (CERD, CRC, CEDAW, ICESCR). 

For adoption of the UPR working group report, we demand that the government of Pakistan represented by the delegation should recognize the point of view of Pakistani civil society, make a firm commitment about restoration of the unconstitutionally deposed judges as a first step towards independence of judiciary, and removing all forms of discriminatory clauses from the constitution and laws besides the policies pursued in the area of educational curriculum. Once the report is adopted we would expect our government to respect its obligations and commitments made about the protection and realization of human rights.

For further information:

Aurat Foundation, [email protected]
Democratic Commission for Human Development,
[email protected]
Interactive Resource Centre,
[email protected] 
National Commission for Justice and Peace,
[email protected]
Pakistan Forum for Social Democracy, [email protected]
Strengthening Participatory Organisation, [email protected]
Giyoun Kim, FORUM-ASIA, [email protected], +41-(0)79-595-7931
Simia Ahmadi, FIDH,
[email protected], +41-(0)22-700-1288