HRCP strongly condemns threats, harassment and defamation campaign against media professionals

Press Release, December 26

 

Karachi:  In a statement issued to the press Mr. Iqbal Haider, Co-Chairperson, Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP) strongly condemned death threats, harassment and defamation campaign against media professionals including Ansar Abbasi, Mushtaq Minhas, and Nusrat Javed.

 

Regrettably, despite the claims of political leaders regarding their commitment to media freedom, a growing number of journalists have faced pressure in recent days. Silencing independent voices can only add to problems that already exist within the federation, the statement said.   This rapid decline in the security situation for journalists is extremely alarming. The attacks and other tactics used against media professionals are obviously aimed at preventing information from reaching people, the statement said.

 

The government’s failure to hold anyone accountable for these threats and attacks can only contribute to the unleashing of further violence and a still graver threat to the well being of newspersons across the country.

 

HRCP would like to remind all responsible that a threatening attitude towards the media goes against all principles of freedom of expression and freedom of the press. Such practices have led to Pakistan being placed in the 10th position as among the world’s worst violators of press freedom by the Committee to Protect Journalists. 

 

Iqbal Haider,

Co-Chairperson

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HRCP welcomes withdrawal of cases against Pakistanis jailed in India

Press Release, December 24

 

LAHORE: The Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP) has welcomed the recent withdrawal of cases by India against 51 Pakistani prisoners at a time of tensions between the two countries.

 

In a statement issued on Wednesday, the Commission said: “The decision by India to drop cases against 51 Pakistani prisoners in Jodhpur Prison and the order to release them can only be welcomed. The gesture is even more appreciable than usual since it comes at a time when sanity is at a heavy discount on both sides and jingoism and war hysteria is being whipped up.

 

The 51 people charged with visa irregularities have already suffered enough for their mistakes. The HRCP urges the governments of India and Pakistan to not defer co-operation in such cases of humanitarian nature. Extending goodwill to each country’s prisoners in the other’s jails could be critical to promoting peaceful bilateral relations.

 

Both countries must also take urgent steps to ensure that the travel agents responsible for furnishing improper or tampered visas to visitors between the two countries are brought to justice and the illegal practice stopped.”

 

Dr Mehdi Hassan

Vice-Chairperson

Benazir award lends urgency to human rights agenda; HRCP

Press Release, December 12

 

Lahore: While hailing the conferment of the United Nations Human Rights Award on Benazir Bhutto as an honour for Pakistan, the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP) has reminded the government of its increased responsibility to promote human rights both at home and abroad. In a statement issued here today the commission said:

 

The conferment of the UN top human rights award on former Prime Minister and PPP leader Benazir Bhutto is an honour for the whole of Pakistan. The award highlights the prominence the right to democratic governance enjoys in the body of human rights. This and the fact that the award was given on the 60th anniversary of the adoption of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights increase the government’s responsibility to pursue its human rights agenda more vigorously than ever.

 

HRCP appreciates the present government’s interest in respecting its human rights obligations, as evident in ratification of the International Covenant on Economic Social and Cultural Rights and the signing of the Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and the Convention Against Torture, a certain easing of the curbs on the media, and a positive move towards abolition of the death penalty. These steps should mark the beginning of a concerted drive to resolve the human rights issues left over by the previous regime. These issues include:

 

The attack on the judiciary of November 3, 2007; the cases of the disappeared persons; the plight of the internally displaced people; the proliferation of armed militants; and the high scale of violence to women and discrimination on grounds of belief. All this should keep the newly created Ministry of Human Rights busy for quite some time. It is essential that the state should go beyond addressing cases on individual basis and develop institutional safeguards against human rights violations.

 

At the same time the country needs a full blown programme to implement the international human rights treaties. This must include ratification of the Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and the Convention Against Torture, adoption of legislation needed for implementing the key human rights instruments, and creating institutional frameworks for eliminating the threats to the people’s right to life, liberty and security and relief from poverty and exploitation.

 

A much needed improvement in the level of respect for human rights norms at home will help Pakistan upgrade its role in international human rights councils. It is no secret that this country needs to undertake its reporting obligations more seriously than it has done hitherto and end its shyness in inviting Special Rapporteurs and responding to their queries.

 

Asma Jahangir, Chairperson

Iqbal Haider, Co-Chairperson

HRCP wants Karachi deweaponised, causes of violence addressed

Press Release, December 1

 

Lahore: The Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP) has expressed shock at the loss of life in recent violence in Karachi and urged the government to ensure that the city is deweaponised and no one is allowed to fan ethnic strife there.

 

A statement issued by the HRCP on Monday said: “The loss of life and property in Karachi in acts of indiscriminate violence in the past two days is truly alarming. Deployment of paramilitary force in the sensitive areas to help control the situation is needed, but such deployment and shoot-at-sight orders do not address the causes of violence. Talibanization is no doubt a serious threat not only in Karachi, but for the whole of Pakistan, however, that cannot be justified as a pretext to fan ethnic violence.

 

It is shocking and beyond comprehension that some political leaders were urging Karachites to buy weapons. Also disappointing have been the slogans for expulsion from Karachi of citizens from other provinces. The Constitution guarantees every citizen’s right to live in any part of the country, and this right cannot be compromised.

 

The extent and use of weapons in the hands of non-state actors in the city in the last few days has been horrific. The government should ensure deweaponisation of the city in a truly unbiased manner. The possibility of the government achieving that depends to a large extent on it convincing the citizens of its ability and willingness to protect all so that they need not keep private arms to protect themselves. The significance of impartial action cannot be emphasized enough. Picking favourites must be avoided as that could lead to disastrous consequences.”

 

Iqbal Haider

Co-chairperson