Pakistan’s rights record coming under UN scrutiny next week

Pakistan also set to join the 47-nation council as a full member, when the U.N. holds a Nov. 12 election in which Pakistan’s candidacy is uncontested. UN Watch is leading an international opposition campaign of human rights groups and parliamentarians: www.unwatch.org/StopPakistan.

Coincidentally, Pakistan’s human rights record will be reviewed two weeks before, on Oct. 30, by the UN Human Rights Council’s automatic Universal Periodic Review (UPR) mechanism. Here is Pakistan’s submission.

Those doing next Tuesday’s review, a process lasting only three hours (including time given Pakistan to respond), are fellow UN member states.

What this means, as we saw the last time Pakistan was reviewed, in May 2008, is that most statements will offer praise instead of scrutiny. To get a sense of how this works, see all of the statements lauding Pakistan’s record in UN Watch’s “Mutual Praise Society” report, at pg. 58.

We expect once again to see only a handful of countries pose any form of challenge. Several of these questions have been submitted in the form of advance questions.  See below.

ADVANCE QUESTIONS TO PAKISTAN

DENMARK

 

  • Which measures is the Government of Pakistan planning to take to increase the protection of marginalised groups, including women and girls, ethnic and religious minorities in the country against violence and discrimination? How are the economic, social and cultural rights of the aforementioned groups promoted and protected in policies of the Pakistani Government and the implementation thereof?
  • What measures does the Government of Pakistan take to protect human rights defenders so they can carry out their activities without risk of violence, harassment, intimidation, or threats?
  • Is the Government of Pakistan considering establishing a permanent moratorium on all pending executions, and having all death sentences commuted to terms of imprisonment?

 

GERMANY

 

  • Does Pakistan have a strategy in order to protect religious freedom?
  • Which measures is Pakistan taking to implement the legislation on strengthening women rights? Does Pakistan have a strategy to be able to promptly and effectively respond to discriminating practices based on Islamic law?

SPAIN

  • ¿Seguirá Pakistán profundizando en la protección de los derechos de las mujeres, consagrando más recursos económicos y humanos a esta tarea?

MEXICO

  • ¿Qué medidas ha ejecutado el gobierno paquistaní para coadyuvar en la plena instrumentación de la normatividad recientemente adoptada para combatir la violencia contra las mujeres, como la enmienda de 2011 del Código Penal, la ley sobre el control de sustancias ácidas y la prevención del delito de lesiones con ácido, la ley sobre el acoso sexual y el proyecto de ley sobre la violencia doméstica?
  • ¿Qué acciones concretas ha llevado a cabo el gobierno paquistaní para garantizar que las fuerzas del orden mantengan un alto nivel de conducta profesional y respeto a los derechos humanos en la lucha contra el terrorismo?
  • ¿Qué avances y desafíos se registran en el proceso de implementación de la Convención contra la Tortura, recientemente ratificada por el Estado paquistaní (junio 2010)?

NETHERLANDS

  • In 2008 the Netherlands recommended to Pakistan to adjust its national laws to the international obligations undertaken. This recommendation was accepted. Subsequently Pakistan has ratified an additional number of international instruments. The national report mentions an inter-ministerial process for the implementation. How has implementation at the provincial level been secured? Does the implementation include the promulgation of new laws or changes to existing laws? Which draft-laws are now under preparation?
  • According to paragraph 42 of the Compilation Report the so-called Blasphemy Law may be used in a discriminatory manner against religious minority groups. Par. 76 of Pakistan’s report indicates it has been misused in the past. The Netherlands would therefore welcome Pakistan’s views on Ambassador Sherry Rehman’s original proposal for amending the Blasphemy Law.
  • Are governmental policies to restrict freedom of opinion on the internet subject to judicial scrutiny? What is the record of Pakistan’s legal system applying the limitative ICCPR criteria for restriction of freedom of opinion on the internet?
  • Is there a government programme to reinstate girls to their rights in cases of abduction, forced marriage and forced conversion?

SWEDEN

  • Pakistan’s constitution state that “All citizens are equal before law and are entitled to equal protection of law and that there shall be no discrimination on the basis of sex alone”. Since the Universal Periodic Review of Pakistan in 2008, Pakistan has adopted a number of important laws designed to protect women and girls from violence and discrimination and the Parliament recently strengthen the National Commission on the Status of Women. These are all encouraging signs.

 

  • However, many women and girls face severe restrictions and are not entitled to human rights and fundamental freedoms, they continue to face serious discrimination and violence in their home, workplace, public life as well as in the judicial system. Domestic violence, rape, “honour killings”, acid attacks and forced marriages remain serious problems in Pakistan. According to civil society organizations 943 cases of honour killings were reported only during 2011. Effective implementation of current laws is lacking on federal as well as provincial level as well as strong, credible and financially adept institutions to monitor and report on the situation, particularly in rural areas.
  • Pakistan is amongst the countries with the highest numbers of enforced disappearances worldwide. It is encouraging that the Government of Pakistan invited the Working Group on Enforced or Involuntary Disappearances to conduct a country visit to Pakistan. As the Working Group noted in their preliminary recommendations, enforced disappearances are part of a pattern that includes serious violations of human rights conducted by intelligence and military forces.

UNITED KINGDOM

  • We would be grateful to receive information regarding the Government’s plans to prevent misuse of the Blasphemy Laws and encourage greater freedom of religious belief?
  • What plans does the Government have to abolish the death penalty?
  • We would be interested to know whether the Government plans to withdraw reservations to Articles 3 and 25 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR); and what its plans are for effective implementation of the ICCPR and Convention against Torture (CAT)?
  • We would be grateful for information regarding steps that the Government is taking to ensure that all groups, including women and religious minorities, especially the Ahmaddiya community, will be able to vote freely in the upcoming elections?
  • What steps has the Government taken to investigate reports of Extra-Judicial Killings in Baluchistan and what are its plans to prevent them?

CZECH REPUBLIC

  • What measures has the Government taken to protect women from all sorts of violence and to increase effectiveness of investigation and punishment of this violence, for example what steps have been taken to strengthen capacity of the police and other authorities to deal appropriately and effectively with victims of sexual assault and other violence against women?
  • How is ensured protection against discrimination of women and which measures were taken to prevent such discrimination, legislative and others? How is civil society engaged in this process?
  • What measures have been taken to prevent illegal actions of jirgas?

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