SAARC states urged to attend to people’s rights and needs

Press Release, July 31

 

Lahore: While welcoming the SAARC Summit in Colombo (August 2-3, 2008), the South Asians for Human Rights (SAHR), a regional body of human rights activists, has commended the SAARC governments’ decision to address people’s daily concerns – food, water, energy and environment, and urged the member states to ensure social justice by ensuring the promotion of people’s fundamental rights.

 

In a statement issued by the SAHR chairperson and co-chairperson, Mr. I.K. Gujral (India) and Dr. Hameeda Hossain (Bangladesh), the organization drew SAARC members’ attention to several grave situations in the region. It said: Continue reading

Longest sentence to juvenile is 28 years imprisonment: AGHS

Longest sentence to juvenile is 28 years imprisonment’
Courtesy Daily Times – 23 July 2008

* AGHS report says youngest child in jail is eight years old
* AGHS director says a lot needs to be done for betterment of child prisoners

LAHORE: The longest sentence given to a juvenile in 2007 for murder is 28 years imprisonment and a fine of Rs 65,000, given by the Additional Session Judge Mandi Bahauddin, an AGHS report at the Lahore Press Club revealed on Tuesday.

The report said that the shortest sentence awarded to a juvenile was for a period of seven days for contravening orders given by the Faisalabad deputy district revenue officer.

The report on children in Punjab prisons has been complied on the basis of information collected from 29 prisons of the province. The report said that the total number of children found in 2007 was 8,098. The number of children admitted to the prisons from January until December was 2,460.

Youngest: The report revealed that the youngest child already in prison in 2007 was an eight-year old who was detained in the Sahiwal Central Jail for murder. It said that the youngest child to be admitted to prison in 2007 was also an eight-year old child who has been detained in the Bahawalnagar District Jail for murder since October 2007, and his case was to be processed until the end of the year.

The report said that there had been a decline in the number of imprisoned children in the 7-11 age bracket. The report said that the total number of convicted children found in the Faisalabad Borstal Institute in 2007 was 619, and that the AGHS had received information about six female child prisoners throughout the year. The report said that they could not receive information regarding most female juveniles as they were detained in the Multan Women Jail. The report said that AGHS had identified 82 cases from the prison data, which required intervention and relief.

Director: AGHS Director Hina Jilani said more should be done for the betterment of children prisoners. She said that the probation department’s role should be made effective, and that children should not be given rigorous imprisonments. The practice still continued in jails and needed to be addressed, she argued. She also said that children who were kept in jail on sexual harassment charges should not be imprisoned with other younger children.

Jilani said that the children who remained with their mothers in jail also needed the authorities’ attention for rehabilitation. She said that the role of a probation officer was quite important in the Juvenile Justice System Ordinance (JJSO) but they were not playing any role, and the police did not inform them when it arrested a child. She said that children in jails were deprived of health facilities and they should be provided with it. Jilani said that the visitors, who came to see the children, should be checked in order to determine whether they were the children’s relatives or criminals. She said that it was also the responsibility of the state to provide juveniles before and under trial with legal aid.

Stop Kurram Agency killings: HRCP

Press release, July 21, 2008

 

Lahore: The government must immediately put an end to bloodshed in Kurram Agency and restore its writ in a region held hostage by terrorists engaged in sectarian violence, the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP) said in a press statement on Monday.

 

The Commission said: “The people of Kurram Agency have been suffering horrific sectarian violence at the hands of home-bred and foreign terrorists since April 2007. For over a year, the main road connecting the agency to the rest of Pakistan has been occupied by militants who close it as and when they please. Ambulances have been attacked, innocent people slaughtered and dismembered bodies in sacks found dumped by the roadside. Heavy weapons are used to target peaceful civilian neighbourhoods. Communication and water supply systems have been destroyed, and the local economy ruined.

 

The situation has grown from bad to worse. There is little evidence that government’s efforts to restore law and order have worked so far.

 

The agency has been virtually cut off from the rest of the country, prices of essentials have hit the sky, development activities have suspended and closure of courts and government offices are causing serious problems for the people living in the agency.

 

The government needs to act in a manner to restore confidence of this area’s people in rule of law and the government’s ability to ensure rights for the people. The government needs to ensure that Kurram residents are duly protected.

 

Asma Jahangir, Chairperson

HRCP strongly condemns Rangers brutality on PTCL workers

Press Release, July 16, 2008

 

Karachi: In a statement issued to the press, Iqbal Haider, the Co-Chairperson of Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP) strongly condemned Rangers brutality on a peaceful demonstration of the workers of PTCL, protesting against the Unified Pay Scale Scheme (UPS), outside the PTCL Headquarters, Islamabad on July 15, 2008.   

 

HRCP would like to know that under what law, the peaceful demonstrators were beaten up, baton charged, and tear-gassed.  HRCP would also like to remind the Government of Pakistan that peaceful demonstrations and raising voice for the rights, are fundamental human rights.

 

HRCP was shocked to note that instead of sympathizing and helping the working class, listening to their grievances, the administration decided to attack on the peaceful demonstrators.  HRCP was further pained when the elected Federal Government added insult to the injury by stating that Government would not allow the protesting labourers to take law in their hands.  Federal Government has totally ignored and forgotten that to protest, is an alienable fundamental right of every citizen.  To deprive them with this right and to use force to prevent them from protesting, is an inhuman act and is not only a shameful violation of the Constitution but also an abuse of authority in an oppressive manner.

 

Mr. Haider called upon the Government that instead of baton charging and tear-gassing, or preventing them from protesting for their demand, the Government should make every effort for acceptance of the demands of the workers of PTCL.

 

HRCP also demanded to take strict disciplinary action against all the concerned officials who are responsible for the lathi charge, tear gassing and injuring the peaceful demonstrators of PTCL.

Iqbal Haider, Secretary General

 

President Al-Bashir sought by the ICC Prosecutor for charges of genocide – FIDH/SOAT

 

Press Release

President Al-Bashir sought by the ICC Prosecutor for charges of genocide

Sudan / ICC

 

Paris, London, The Hague – 14 July 2008 – The International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH) and its member organisation the Sudan Organisation against Torture (SOAT) welcome today’s announcement by the Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court on the request for an arrest warrant against Omar Hassan Al-Bashir, President of the Sudan, for charges of genocide and crimes against humanity committed in Darfur.

 

 “This is the first time judicial evidence is presented to prove that the crime of genocide has been perpetrated in Darfur. The Prosecutor’s filing confirms that the highest authority of the government has been personally involved in planning the mass campaign of violence against the population of Darfur. We believe that disclosing this evidence and indicting Al-Bashir could contribute to stability in the region ”, said Souhayr Belhassen, President of FIDH.

 

Concealing his crimes under the guise of a ‘counterinsurgency strategy’, or ‘inter tribal clashes’, or the ‘actions of lawless autonomous militia’, Al-Bashir made possible the commission of further crimes. He promoted and provided impunity to his subordinates in order to secure their willingness to commit genocide”, the Prosecutor said.

 

 

FIDH and SOAT call upon the Security Council, the African Union and the League of Arab States to support the actions carried out by the Prosecutor and the ICC.

 

“States must protect the civilian population in Darfur and the joint military force deployed in this territory. They must also intensify their efforts to work towards a legal and political solution”, added Souhayr Belhassen.

 

According to the treaty founding the ICC, there is no immunity from prosecution for crimes against humanity, genocide and war crimes: those who have committed the most serious crimes cannot escape international justice regardless of their official capacity.

 

The ICC has already issued arrest warrants for Ahmad Harun, Sudanese Minister for Humanitarian Affairs, and Ali Kushayb, a Janjaweed militia leader. Both men are still at large and have been protected by the Government of Sudan and by President Al-Bashir himself. Mr. Ocampo had indicated in previous speeches that protecting the indicted, in particular Ahmad Harun, demonstrated that other members of the Sudanese government were involved in the commission of the massive atrocities committed in Darfur.

 

The decision now lies with the judges, who will consider the evidence and decide whether an arrest warrant should be issued against Al-Bashir.

Press contact:
The Hague: Mariana Pena +31-6 33 89 32 09

Update: Pakistani woman detained in China for 3 months deported

UPDATE to the blogpost HRCP urges PM’s action over Pakistani women detained in Afghanistan, China:

****

 

We have received information that Ms. Zalkaf Begum, who had been in detention in China for three months after losing her passport and overstaying her visa duration and who remained still in prison after an emergency passport was issued to her because she was unable to pay for her return to Pakistan, has been deported back to Pakistan by the Chinese Authorities.

 

The costs of air ticket and miscellaneous having been borne by the Chinese Authorities and not the Pakistan government. The Pakistani consulate had declared that it had no funds for the air ticket.

 

According to the information, Zalkaf Begum has requested a low profile and does not wish the issue to be ‘exaggerated’ so that her privacy, and that of her family, may be protected.

Edhi records dumping of an average of 30 babies a month – DT

A news report in Daily Times, about the work of EDHI welfare foundation, reveals shocking data that  states that on an average 30 babies are dumped in the garbage each month in Pakistan.

****************

Daily Times: 30 babies dumped in the garbage each month

By Irfan Aligi

 

KARACHI: The Edhi Welfare Trust (EWT) has collected an astonishing 17,000 living infants over 38 years from ‘katchra kundis’ (garbage dumps) of which 98 percent are girls and only two percent are boys. The number of dead babies found at these dumps over the same time period is fourfold, 68,000, while on average, 30 infants are rescued each month by the EWT from all over Pakistan, informed Abdul Sattar Edhi, renowned human rights activist and Chief Trustee of the EWT, while talking to Daily Times.

 

The most discarded babies are found in Karachi with Nazimabad, North Karachi and Baldia Town being the most popular sites for this gross disrespect of life, he noted, adding that it is obvious that people discard a girl infant as they cannot afford to raise her with low prospects of employment. What is even more bewildering, he said, is that some parents choose to cut the throat of their new born.

 

An astounding number of infants are found with their throats slit or who have been smothered to death, he noted. “No crime can surpass this act of brutality and inhumanity. People do not fear Allah when they kill a defenseless and innocent infant like a wild animal.

 

“I have always appealed to people who give birth to girls, whether illegitimate or legitimate, and do not want to keep them due to poverty, to drop their unwanted child in the cradle placed outside the main gate of EWT in Kharadar, but we still find discarded babies, alive and dead, everywhere,” he regretted. “Allah has ordained in the Holy Quran to not kill infants for fear of a lack of food because it is He who provides food to all creatures, but unfortunately, I know some clerics who say that it is okay to kill such infants,” remarked Edhi.

 

A positive is that the number of couples willing to adopt infants from the EWT is growing. The adopting couples are monitored for five years, to check the fostering conditions of an adopted child. Thankfully, hundreds of adopted infants are now serving the country after becoming doctors, engineers, teachers and scientists, noted Edhi.

 

Faisal Edhi, Edhi Welfare Trust Trustee, told Daily Times that despite all the modernization and the commotion about civil and human rights these day, the fate of a lot of newborn girls is the same as it was as was 1,500 years ago when in Arabia, newborn girls were buried alive because of poverty or the dishonour they brought the family. He also thanked the Pakistanis who continue to support the EWT in their noble mission of saving innocent lives and giving them a future.