Pakistan's re-election to UNHRC 'OK': HRCP -Pakistan Press Foundation (PPF)

Paksitan Press Foundtion

Pakistan’s re-election to UNHRC ‘OK’: HRCP

LAHORE: The Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP) expressed hope and concern over the re-election of Pakistan to the United Nations Human Rights Council. According to a press statement issued by the HRCP on Thursday, the commission said it was happy over the re-election and hoped that Pakistan would now honour its commitments and follow the recommendations of the council. It urged the government to play a responsible role in the UN body.

The commission welcomed the setting up of an independent national human rights body in accordance with the Paris Principles. It said the effectiveness of the body would depend on the right selection of commissioners who should be able to aptly probe into violations carried by law enforcement agencies. It said that the commission must be gender-balanced and also include minorities. The commission said that it was a good omen that the government had acceded to the International Convention for the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearances. It said the implementation of the convention would be a litmus test for the new government.

The release said that it was encouraging that the UNHRC was working on a proposal to commute the death penalty to life imprisonment. It said the government’s position on the issue was ‘unclear’. Condemning the capital punishment it said that Pakistan had one of the highest rates of awarding the punishment. Currently, more than 7,500 prisoners were on a death row, it added.

Pakistani representative to UNHRC: The HRCP alleged that the representative of Pakistan to the UNHRC had made several misleading claims. It said that despite the claims, no consultation or dialogue was held while preparing the Universal Periodic Review of Pakistan. It said that non-government organisations could not freely operate in some areas and those perpetrated violence against them were sill at large. Democratic governments should present a true picture of human rights in the country, it added.

The statement further said that ‘embarrassing and unconvincing statements’ were made regarding the state of religious minorities. The annual report of 2007 of the commission disproved that violence against minorities was ‘insignificant’, it added.

The statement said that it was regrettable that religious hatred was incited through some mosques but the representative of Pakistan to the UNHRC defended ‘inaction and lack of legislation on the ground that religious sentiments run high in Pakistan’.

The HRCP also rejected the government’s position on Hudood Laws and said the government was misleading itself. “It is the government’s responsibility to protect women from being abused or exploited, but the law of Zina does exactly the same,” it added.

The press statement also alleged that the government misled the UNHRC by assuring that personnel of law enforcement agencies were trained in humanitarian laws. “The HRCP has authentic reports of disappearances, torture, and illegal detention carried out by the security forces with impunity. A large number of non-combatants have been targeted and killed by the security forces and so far, no inquiry or investigation has been carried out,” it said.

The commission also urged the government to ‘expose’ violence committed during President Pervez Musharraf’s regime.
Source: Daily Times
Date:5/30/2008