HRCP voices concern over FSC verdict

Lahore, December 25: The Human Right Commission of Pakistan (HRCP) has expressed alarm at the Federal Shariat Court (FSC) decision that seeks reversal of several provisions of the Women’s Protection Act, 2006.

In a statement on Saturday, the Commission said it would issue a detailed comment on the implications of the FSC decision later but was “alarmed that the verdict seeks reversion to provisions of the 1979 Hudood Ordinance which were highly discriminatory to the rights of women. HRCP considers the decision a setback to efforts to ensure equal protection of law for women. HRCP’s serious concern emanates not least from the fact that the FSC decision seeks to undermine the legislative authority of parliament, encroaches upon its power to translate people’s demands into laws, and subverts the functioning and authority of the mainstream judiciary. In a way, the verdict provides a decisive argument for the abolition of Federal Shariat Court.

It is distressing that December 22 will be remembered mainly for the disappointing FSC decision and not for appointment of the country’s first woman ombudsperson to hear complaints of sexual harassment in the workplace.

HRCP urges the government and the civil society to challenge the FSC decision and effectively argue the matter with a view to ensure that women’s rights are not compromised and that rights of all citizens are equal protected. The government must also do everything it can to not only strengthen protection for women in the laws and ensure compliance in practice, but also prevent reversal of pro-woman laws.”
Dr Mehdi Hasan


HRCP alarmed by HRD’s ‘disappearance’

Lahore, December 21: The Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP) has expressed alarm at the abduction by government agents of human rights activist Mr Siddique Eido from Pasni on Tuesday.

Mr Eido was returning from a court hearing along with his brother when, on main Gwadar Road, several men in two vehicles used by the intelligence agencies in the area stopped the van the two brothers were traveling in and abducted Eido. At least four policemen were also traveling in the same van with the two brothers and were reportedly manhandled by the abductors.

Mr Eido had earlier been implicated in a criminal case and had been released on bail. He was returning on Tuesday after attending a hearing of the same case. HRCP has serious concern that Mr Eido may be tortured and that his life is in danger. HRCP has demanded that Mr Eido must be immediately released and the rights of people working as human rights defenders (HRDs) respected without exception.

Mehdi Hasan

HRCP alarmed by killing of journalists, HRD

Lahore, December 14: The Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP) has expressed concern at the killing of a human rights defender and three journalists in the country in the last few days.

In a statement issued on Tuesday, HRCP said: “HRCP is grieved at the death of three journalists and a human rights defender (HRD) in the country in the space of one week. Although the fact that journalists and HRD in Pakistan work in a dangerous environment hardly needs to be emphasised further, the recent death of journalists Pervez Khan and Abdul Wahab in a suicide bombing in Mohmand, target killing of Mirpurkhas Press Club president Sultan Mehmood Chandio, and of Mithal Mangi in Khairpur only reiterate the dangers they face.

HRCP expects the government to ensure that all three cases get the attention that they deserve. Pervez Khan Mohmand and Abdul Wahab were killed while performing their professional duties as journalists. The government and the two journalists’ employers’ must give proper financial compensation to their families. HRCP also calls upon the government to launch an inquiry into the murder of the Mirpurkhas Press Club president in order to find the perpetrators and bring them to justice. Mithal Mangi was apparently murdered because of his work as a human rights defender. In that case, the government need to ensure implantation of the statements it made on December 10, International Human Rights Day, where the theme this year was human rights defenders. HRCP must emphasise once again the urgent need to recognise and prevent the great personal risks that HRDs are exposed to because of their work against abuse and violation of rights and protect the rights defenders’ role in the country.”
Dr Mehdi Hasan

HRCP dismayed by executive’s response to police violence

Lahore, December 13: The Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP) has expressed shock and dismay at a lack of government response to the wanton use of violence by police against students and teachers in Lahore.

In a statement issued on Monday, the Commission said, “It is regrettable that the government is yet to take note of the poor policing and the wanton use of violence by police against students and teachers protesting in Lahore. The fact that the high court has taken notice of the use of force against the protesters does not prevent the executive from taking action. Regardless of the merit of the protesters’ demands, HRCP condemns as absolutely unwarranted the merciless baton-charge on the students and teachers by the police and reminds the government that overlooking such infractions would send the wrong signal to the police and encourage similar abuse of the people’s rights in future.”

Dr Mehdi Hasan

Pakistan’s Jahangir receives UNESCO Prize for promoting human rights

December 10 is the International Human Rights Day. Other than the Nobel Peace Prize, which was awarded this year to Liu Xiaobo, numerous prizes for human rights activists are awarded on this day all over the world. 58-year-old lawyer Asma Jahangir, recipient of UNESCO/Bilbao Prize for 2010, is the current president of the Supreme Court Bar Association and a founding member of the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan, the country’s leading independent human rights body. ‘It increases one’s responsibilities’ She is a brilliant speaker and a relentless champion of people’s rights. And yet, there are moments when even Asma Jahangir seems tired: when she talks about how much still remains to be done in Pakistan despite some improvements. Asma Jahangir laughs heartily and admits that she too is a normal human being with strengths and weaknesses. She is happy about the international recognition that comes with the UNESCO/Bilbao Prize. “It is indeed a matter of happiness and pride, but at the same time it increases one’s responsibility. People expect more from you. One has to strategize more, keeping in mind one’s integrity. It draws a ‘red line’ for you.” The journey Asma Jahangir was born in a rich family in Lahore. When the Pakistani government suppressed the independence movement in the late sixties in East Pakistan, today’s Bangladesh, Asma’s father protested and was repeatedly jailed or put under house arrest. Asma Jahangir believes this experience has truly formed her. Bildunterschrift: Großansicht des Bildes mit der Bildunterschrift: Asma Jahangir has been campaigning for human rights for several decades “What I have learnt is that you are no longer materialistic after that. The way my father worked altruistically, and the manner in which he used to go behind bars and come back home smilingly was inspirational. He passed away when he was only 61. He had cancer, and we knew he would leave us soon. I remember my sister and I were sitting at his deathbed, and he looked at us and said, ‘I am not going to die, I will live through you’,” reminisces Jahangir. Asma Jahangir followed his words. With her inheritance she founded a women’s forum in 1980 together with her sister, Hina Jilani, a lawyer herself. In her numerous jobs, for example as chairperson of the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan, or as United Nations Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Religion or Belief, she has raised her voice against the discrimination of religious minorities, against “honor” killings, or the treatment of minors in Pakistani jails. It has not been easy for her. “Women face difficulties at all levels. They face hardship in society and at the workplace. Women also have to struggle within their households. Therefore, if any woman asserts herself, people find it difficult to accept. They can also be very cruel towards that woman,” opines Jahangir. She remembers that her own in-laws also found it difficult to accept that their son had married a woman who was not a typical Pakistani wife. But with time, both her family and society have accepted her achievements. Bildunterschrift: Großansicht des Bildes mit der Bildunterschrift: A demonstration for minority rights in Pakistan Dreams for a better Pakistan For Pakistan, Asma Jahangir has many dreams. “Firstly, I want to see economic prosperity in Pakistan. The indignity of poverty makes me despair. Pakistanis are a very dignified people. They have suffered a great deal. They have resisted oppression. And yet, the image of Pakistan projected in the world is mostly negative. The positive side of Pakistan is not shown. I think Pakistan has wasted its human capital.” She has learnt to suppress her anger, even when she is being accused of blasphemy or treason. But Asma Jahangir emphasizes that a life in anger is not worth living. Author: Priya Esselborn (tb) Editor: Shamil Shams