Pakistan urged to sign all rights treaties
ISLAMABAD – The participants of a consultative seminar here on Wednesday demanded that Pakistan immediately sign and ratify all major human rights treaties including the Rome Statute under which the International Criminal Court (ICC) was set up.
The ICC was empowered to prosecute crimes like genocide, war crimes and crimes against humanity in member states.
The seminar on ‘Human Rights Treaties and the International Criminal Court: Mechanism to Defend and Protect Human Rights’ had been organized by the Society for the Protection of the Rights of the Child (Sparc) in collaboration with Asian Forum for Human Rights and Development (FORUM Asia) and Coalition for the International Criminal Court, Pakistan.
Speaking on ‘Conventional and Non-Conventional Mechanism under the Core Human Rights Treaties and NGO Role in Pursuing Implementation’, Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP) Director I.A. Rehman criticized the government’s reluctance first to sign international treaties dealing with human rights and then to furnish reports under it.
Pakistan’s reports on human rights, he said, were invariably late and it seemed as if the government had something to hide.
He lamented the present state of human rights in the country, but at the same time reaffirmed his faith in the people and said positive changes were imminent in Pakistani society.
Sparc National Coordinator Anees Jillani was of the view that international human rights treaties and even domestic laws if enforced to an extent provided a yardstick and certain ideals for the society and activists to achieve some of their human rights goals. Change, even if little, was eventually brought about due to those laws and treaties, he added.
Ahmed Ziauddin, regional expert and Liaison Asian Network for the ICC, urged Pakistan to subscribe to the ICC Statute, stating that it was all the more important keeping in view Pakistan’s nuclear status.
In his detailed presentation on the International Criminal Court, he said so far 97 countries had ratified the Rome Statute which dealt with ICC.
The main features of the ICC were unlike that of the International Court of Justice (ICJ) which dealt with state. The ICC, he explained, had the power to investigate, prosecute and convict individuals whether as part of or in relation to the government in power, a group rebelling or aiming to change the government or status quo.
Unlike the ad hoc tribunals for Rwanda and Yugoslavia, he said the ICC was a permanent body based in The Hague, the Netherlands. Due to its permanent status, the ICC could take immediate actions and exercise consistency in resolving issues involving criminal acts worldwide.
Unlike, domestic or criminal courts, he said, the ICC exercised jurisdiction over criminals and member states.
About the need of the ICC, Mr Ziauddin said, the war in Bosnia, the genocide in Rwanda, 50 years after the Holocaust, all demonstrated that the global communities had failed to curb the commission of war crimes, crimes against humanity, genocide and aggression.
During the question-answer session, programme coordinator FORUM Asia, Niza Conception said the ICC did not have its own force, but it would use the power of all member states to bring to justice individuals and groups involved in crimes against humanity in the member country.
She said it was time that all countries ratified the Rome Statute in order to produce individuals of powerful countries like the US before the ICC.
Coordinator, Amnesty International and ICC, Iqbal Ahmed Detho said Pakistan had voted in favour of the ICC at the UN conference of Plenipotentiaries in 1998 at Rome, but had not signed it by citing various reasons including the one that India, China, the US and Israel had also not signed it.