SAHR Welcomes Indo – Pak Talks

South Asians for Human Rights (SAHR)

 

SAHR Welcomes Indo – Pak Talks

South Asians for Human Rights (SAHR) welcomes talks between the Foreign Secretary of India Ms. Nirupama Rao and Pakistan’s Foreign Secretary Mr. Salman Bashir which is scheduled to be held on Thursday, 24th June 2010 in Islamabad Pakistan.

India and Pakistan are to commence a set of back-to-back meetings, starting with the talks between their foreign secretaries. The talks are to cover an entire gamut of bilateral issues, including terrorism, Jammu and Kashmir, confidence-building measures and the Indus water dispute. The aim is at bridging the trust deficit which was created after the Mumbai Attacks in 2008 and exploring ways to revive dialogue between them.

SAHR believes that the talks will provide a much needed opportunity to bridge the differences between the two countries and take positive steps towards peace between India and Pakistan. It is imperative that countries of South Asia overcome their hostility and sustain a dialogue to address the contentious issues and misunderstandings that have threatened peace and cooperation in South Asia. SAHR hopes that through these talks there will be a reaffirmation by both sides of their intention to promote regional cooperation which can establish better relations between the two countries to move towards a composite dialogue that will have a positive impact in South Asia.

SAHR is of the view that both countries must engage in a fruitful process of confidence building so that serious issues facing them as well as the rest of South Asia can be resolved,

SAHR hopes that the delegations of both countries will make serious efforts to resolves problems in the interest of peace and cooperation in South Asia and thus make peace a reality for the people. It also calls on both governments to encourage people-to-people contact by making travel easier between the two countries.

SAHR Secretariat

HRCP urges inclusive, transparent compensation plan for conflict-hit areas

Lahore, June 24, 2010: The Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP) has asked the government to inform the people as to how the plan for compensation for damage to houses in the conflict-hit zones of the country is progressing.

A statement issued by HRCP on Thursday said: “HRCP welcomes government’s move to start assessment of damage to houses in the conflict-hit northwestern parts of the country with a view to giving compensation to the affected people. However, while damage to totally or partially destroyed houses has been assessed in Buner, Upper Dir and Swat districts of Khyber-Pakhtunkhawa and at least estimates of damages calculated in Bajaur and Mohmand regions in FATA, HRCP regrets that the same has not happened in Upper Swat and Lower Dir, Shangla, Hangu and Kohat districts in Khyber-Pakhtunkhawa and South Waziristan, Kurram and Orakzai agencies in FATA.

HRCP cannot emphasise enough the importance of early payment of compensation to the affected people, which is crucial for individuals to return to their communities and rebuild their homes and lives. It would also mitigate anger over damage to property in security forces’ operations and garner support for government action against militants.

HRCP strongly suggests that the government consult representatives of the affected people during the decision-making process to ensure that their concerns are addressed.

The government must also explain to the people how transparency would be ensured in the distribution of compensation and what mechanisms have been put in place to ensure accountability.”

ICJ Commissioner Muhannad Al-Hasani sentenced to three years

COMMUNIQUE DE PRESSE – COMUNICADO DE PRENSA

For immediate release Geneva, 23 June 2009

Syria: ICJ Commissioner Muhannad Al-Hasani sentenced to three years
imprisonment

The ICJ calls for his immediate and unconditional release
The International Commission of Jurists (ICJ) strongly condemns the decision of the Second
Criminal Court of Damascus to convict Mr. Muhannad Al-Hasani, ICJ Commissioner and
prominent Syrian lawyer and human rights defender, sentencing him to three years
imprisonment. He was arrested on 28 July by officers of the Syrian General Intelligence
Service and formally charged by an Investigating Judge on 12 October 2009 for “weakening
national sentiments and encouraging racist and sectarian feelings”, and “transferring false and
exaggerated news that weaken national sentiments” under Articles 285, 286 and 287 of the Penal
Code.

“The trial of Mr. Al-Hasani before the Second Criminal Court of Damascus was a summary trial
which failed to meet international standards of due process,” said Wilder Tayler, ICJ Secretary
General. “The President of the Court denied all defence witnesses from giving evidence and did not
require the prosecution to present any credible evidence to support the accusations against Mr. Al-
Hasani,” Tayler added.

Convicting Al-Hasani for the charges arising from his observation and reporting on open
trials of the State Security Court, and his activities as President of the Syrian Organisation for
Human Rights, amount to punishment for the exercise of his legitimate right to freedom of
expression and association, and his professional conduct as a lawyer.

“From the outset and during the hearings, Mr. Al-Hasani was presumed guilty and the burden of
proof was placed on him not on the prosecution, “said Tayler. “His right to present evidence, to
examine and cross-examine witnesses was also denied,” he added.

Since 28 July 2009 Mr. Al-Hasani has been detained in jail, during which time his lawyers
were not allowed to meet him without prior authorization from the Syrian Bar Association, a
non-independent organization under the control of the Syrian authorities. On a number of
occasions they were refused permission to meet with him.

“The decision of the Criminal Court is final and can only be challenged before the Cassation
Court on procedural grounds,” said Wilder Tayler. Limiting the appeal to procedural
grounds in this case violates Mr. Al-Hasani’s right to appeal, constituting a further violation
of the guarantees to a fair trial” Tayler added.

“The Syrian authorities must abide by their obligations under international law and
immediately and unconditionally release Mr. Al-Hasani,” Tayler concluded.

For more information, please contact Saīd Benarbia,
Middle East & North Africa Legal Adviser, + 41765883362

HRCP group begins work to highlight threats based on belief

Lahore, June 15, 2010: A working group established by the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP) has formally started working to highlight the challenges and discrimination faced by the communities across the country on account of their belief.

The HRCP Working Group on Rights of Communities Vulnerable Because of their Belief, which was launched last week, comprises members of Christian, Hindu, Bahai, Ahmedi, Zoroastrian, Sikh and Muslim communities.
The group has decided to give priority to initiatives to highlight human rights violations and concerns; analysis of discriminatory laws and practices and recommending appropriate changes; and scrutiny of circumstances that allow advocacy of hatred based on religious beliefs, which constitutes incitement to discrimination, hostility or violence.

Over the next few months, the group plans to engage in a constructive dialogue with the civil society and policy makers to lobby for change, as well as enhance capacity of members of vulnerable communities. The group is expected to release its first report by the end of the year.

The group has been set up in response to growing vulnerability of members of these communities over the last several years as extremists and militants have increasingly resorted to violence and incitement to violence to target them.

by: I. A. Rehman Secretary – General

HRCP alarmed over likely choice to head CII

Lahore, June 14, 2010: The Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP) has expressed concern over the reported decision to appoint a conservative cleric to head the Council of Islamic Ideology.

A statement issued by HRCP on Monday said: “The reported decision to relieve the widely acclaimed scholar for rational interpretation of Islamic injunctions as chairman of the Council of Islamic Ideology (CII) and replace him with an office-bearer of a religious political party will cause widespread concern among the democratic sections of the people.

The reported decision, if true, deserves to be censured as it is too heavy a price to pay for the passage of the federal budget, or even the survival of the federal government. In the long run, neither economic planning, nor the status of the present government will escape the consequences.

Even though the status of the CII is now that of an advisory body after it has been superseded by the Federal Shariat Court, the Council’s decisions still carry a certain influence with devout Muslims, especially laypersons among them. That is all the more reason to demonstrate prudence while nominating the chairman and members of the body.

In addition to being religious scholars, the members, and indeed the chairman, of the CII should also be abreast of contemporary challenges.
HRCP is seriously concerned that such nominations would strengthen forces of obscurantism and strongly suggests that CII positions should not be given away as a reward for political services of dubious value.”

by: Asma Jahangir Chairperson