Amnesty report paints Pakistan in unflattering light
WASHINGTON: Pakistan is portrayed in an unflattering light in Amnesty International’s 2008 report, following the events of the last year and the continuance of such traditional practices such as honour killings, tribal justice and the random killing of civilians by militants and vigilantes.
The report says, “Thousands of lawyers, journalists, human rights activists and political workers were arbitrarily detained. The independence of the judiciary was curbed. Some victims of enforced disappearance re-appeared but hundreds remained missing. Honour killings and resort to jirgas continued. Violence against women continued with impunity. Some 310 people were sentenced to death and at least 135 executed. Members of pro-Taliban and other religious groups took hostages, unlawfully killed civilians, and committed acts of violence against women and girls.”
The report notes that the confrontation between the government and the judiciary dominated the political process during the period under review. During the period of emergency rule, fundamental rights were suspended and hundreds were detained, including the chairwoman of the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan and UN Special Rapporteur for Freedom of Religion Asma Jehangir and UN Special Representative of the Secretary General on Human Rights Defenders Hina Jilani, the report says.
Amnesty points out that the fate and whereabouts of hundreds of people remained unclear during the year and that those missing were at risk of torture and other ill-treatment. Unlawful transfers of victims of enforced disappearance to countries where they could be at risk of torture continued, it continues.
During several waves of protest, security forces used unnecessary or excessive force against peaceful demonstrators and police were complicit in violent attacks allegedly carried out by political allies of the government, particularly during a lawyers’ campaign against former chief justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry’s suspension in March, the report reads.
It also says that in the Tribal Areas and Swat, the military launched air strikes on several villages, reportedly resulting in the deaths of many unarmed civilians.
Few attempts were made to arrest and try alleged militants, many journalists covering protest rallies were beaten, threatened and detained and after the imposition of emergency rule, independent television and radio news channels were closed, Amnesty writes. New laws arbitrarily restricting the print and electronic media were issued in November, it continues.
Independent Pakistani television channels were prohibited from broadcasting within Pakistan unless they signed a Code of Conduct restricting criticism of the government, children’s and women’s rights were routinely ignored, the Hudood Ordinances continued to sanction flogging and amputation, but no such punishments were carried out in 2007, it says.
Source: The News