Most HR violations committed by police
KARACHI – Although Pakistan has signed almost all the international conventions and treaties relating to human rights, the situation in the country is far from being ideal.
This was observed by speakers at a seminar on Human Rights and Education organized in Karachi on December 9, jointly by the United Nations System in Pakistan and the Pakistan Women Lawyers Association (PAWLA).
Sindh Ombudsman Yusuf Jamal, UN Resident Coordinator Onder Yucer, Tetsuo M. Ohno, PAWLA chief Rashida Patel and Noor Naz Agha were among the speakers at the seminar held in connection with the International Human Rights Day, being observed on December 10.
They stressed the need for literacy and said that unless people got themselves educated, they could not have a clear idea of their rights and, therefore, could not struggle to achieve them.
Pakistan has also signed the UN Convention on Elimination of all kinds of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW), but victimization and domestic violence aimed against women is rampant in the country, which has not yet formulated its laws in conformity with its international commitments, they pointed out.
Sindh Home Minister Rauf Siddiqui said that most of the human rights violations were committed by police. He said that he was not fully satisfied with the working of police or the home ministry, yet he had made efforts and was pleased to note that the situation, if compared with the situation during the past governments, had improved. “Still there is a lot to be done,” he added.
He was critical of the ‘international champions’ of human rights who, he observed, highlighted even a minor human rights violation in certain countries but remained tight-lipped over the gross human rights violations in Iraq, Kosovo, Palestine and Kashmir.
Earlier, a former Sindh governor, Kamal Azfar, said that the human rights situation in the country these days were similar to those present in England in the 17th century when a civil war had erupted and after which the situation improved gradually.
He said that although Pakistan’s constitution guaranteed basic rights, violations were rampant. He said that women, minorities, and other weaker sections of the society, owing to their vulnerability, suffered more. He said that the society had become intolerant owing to the rights violation.
Other speakers said that human rights education was a vital part of the efforts designed to equip new generations with knowledge of their inalienable rights and the means to exercise and defend them. They pointed out that the United Nations Decade for Human Rights Education (1995-2004) was coming to an end on December 10.
Now the efforts are being made to proclaim a World Programme for Human Rights Education in which the first three years (2005-2007) would focus on primary and secondary education, through integrating human rights issues into curricula, changing educational processes and teaching methods and, most importantly, improving the environment in which education takes place.
They said that human rights education was much more than a lesson in schools or a theme for the day. It is a process to equip people with the tools they need to live a secure and dignified life. An exhibition of paintings by schoolchildren highlighting human rights situation was also held on the occasion. Prizes were distributed among children.