49th session of the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights (ACHPR)

International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH)

Joint press release

49th session of the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights (ACHPR)

The African Commission should continue to support democratic movements on the continent



Banjul, Nairobi, Paris, Cairo, April 28, 2011 – FIDH and its member organizations from Algeria, Ivory Coast, Egypt, Tunisia, Burkina Faso, Togo, Guinea-Conakry, Senegal, Sudan and Zimbabwe, present at the 49th Session of the ACHPR, which opened on April 28th, urge the Commission to support democratic movements on the Continent by adopting resolutions on the North Africa situation and condemning violations of human rights perpetrated in particular in Libya, Burkina Faso, Djibouti, Ivory Coast and in Burundi.

The FIDH and its members in Libya and in Burkina Faso are calling on the Commission to adopt resolutions on these countries who present their periodic report on compliance with the provisions of the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights so that in Burkina Faso, the right to demonstrate, the right not to be arbitrarily detained or the right to life and physical integrity until recently abused are finally guaranteed. On Libya, FIDH and the Libyan League renew their congratulations to the Commission for passing their communication to the African Court on Human Rights concerning the massive and systematic violations of human rights perpetrated by the power of Mouhamar Ghaddafi. In view of the continuing systematic attacks against civilians in Libya and the Libyan authorities’ refusal to comply with the recommendations of the Commission and Court to stop the violence, the Commission must adopt a new resolution condemning the escalating abuses arising from the criminal Mouhamar Ghaddafi regime.

The Commission furthermore has the opportunity to renew, by a resolution, its support to the wave of democracy especially in Tunisia and Egypt. The Commission should then decide to visit these countries to support the establishment of democratic institutions and help them to finally ensure effectively the rights recognized under the African Charter and African instruments for the protection of human rights. “The democratic movement in North Africa is a unique momentum and a historic opportunity for Africa as a whole. In this 30th anniversary of the African Charter, the Commission has a rendez-vous with history by supporting the aspirations of Africa and Africans to live freely and peacefully ” said FIDH Honorary President, Mr. Sidiki KABA, opening the NGO’s Forum.
Faced with situations of serious human rights violations prior or after elections such as in Ivory Coast, Djibouti and Burundi, the Commission must condemn these violations and call on countries to ratify and comply with the provisions of the African Charter on Democracy, Elections and Good Governance. The Commission should reiterate its condemnation of impunity for the perpetrators of these crimes.
Since 2005, FIDH and its members accompanied the Commission and its Working Group on the death penalty to complete a report on capital punishment in Africa that will recommend the drafting of a protocol banning the death penalty on continent. “The Commission shall adopt the report of the Working Group on the death penalty during this session to allow African institutions to adopt legal instruments to end the death penalty in Africa” said FIDH’s president, Ms. Souhayr Belhassen.
Finally, FIDH and its members call upon States of the African Union not to interfere with the work of the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights as some have done so during the last Summit of Heads of States and Governments held in Addis Ababa in January 2011 by failing to adopt the report of the Commission which would denounce violations committed in some African countries. Instead, “AU states must guarantee the independence and support the mandate of the Commission in particular when many African nations are fighting for their freedom and claiming their legitimate rights guaranteed by the African instruments for the Protection of Human Rights” added FIDH President, Ms Souhayr Belhassen.
Press contacts:
Arthur Manet: +33 1 43 55 90 19 / +33 6 72 28 42 94
Karine Appy : + 33 1 43 55 14 12 / + 33 6 48 05 91 57


HRCP slams govt as abducted HRD’s body found

Lahore, April 28: The Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP) has expressed deep shock and outrage over the barbaric murder of abducted human rights defender (HRD) and HRCP Core Group Coordinator for Pasni, Siddique Eido, whose tortured body was found from Ormara area on Thursday. The Commission slammed the government’s failure to ensure Siddique’s safe recovery and urged justice for his murder.

A statement issued by the Commission said: “Since Siddique Eido’s abduction by men in security forces uniforms on December 21 last, HRCP had been demanding that the government ensured his immediate recovery. The uniforms of his abductors and the vehicles they had used gave credence to the belief that state agents were involved. Siddique had been abducted in the presence of several policemen, but despite such clear evidence no action was taken to publicly identify or prosecute his abductors and secure his release. Siddique had worked to highlight incidents of enforced disappearance and other human rights violations in the region and recently his own disappearance had also been challenged in the Supreme Court. HRCP had repeatedly highlighted threats to Siddique’s life in communications to the government and security forces officials and is devastated that not enough was done to save Siddique’s life. HRCP is disappointed beyond words by the degree of official inaction and callousness which amounts to collusion in Siddique’s murder.

Unfortunately, this is not the first time in 2011 that a human rights defender associated with HRCP has been targeted. On March 1, HRCP Core Group Coordinator for Khuzdar, Naeem Sabir, was shot and killed. His killers remain at large. These murders highlight the grave threats that human rights defenders in Balochistan face on account of their work.

Targeting of human rights defenders points to further aggravation of the situation in Balochistan when it seemed difficult to imagine how things could get any worse. Most of the challenges that the state has on its hands in Balochistan are of its own making.  Targeting of human rights defenders will only make those challenges worse.

HRCP demands that the government make up for its abject condonation of criminality by making sure that Siddique’s murderers are brought to justice in an open and fair trial. Also the state cannot ignore its duty to compensate the families of Siddique Eido, Naeem Sabir and other persons killed after abduction by security personnel.
HRCP also demands the government stop and prevent harassment and intimidation of human rights defenders in Balochistan. It is important to create conditions where they can carry out their work without fear.”

Zohra Yusuf

HRCP’s dismay at acquittal of Mukhtaran rape accused

Lahore, April 22: The Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP) has expressed its alarm and disappointment at the Supreme Court verdict acquitting the men accused of raping Mukhtaran Mai nine years ago and has stated that the decision would add to difficulties that rape victims face in bringing their tormentors to justice.

In a statement issued on Friday, the Commission said, “It is utterly disappointing that insufficient police investigation and delay in registering a case with the police have been made basis for acquittal of the accused. HRCP also has serious concerns that the courts lack the capacity and the sensitivity to properly appraise evidence in rape cases.

Members of the jirga that had decreed that Mukhtaran should be raped were publicly identified, as were her rapists. It is neither unusual for police to submit flawed challans to facilitate acquittal, nor rare for courts to demand better investigation where they are not satisfied with the probe. The idea that delay in the registration of the rape case created doubts about the veracity of the charge ignores the trauma and harassment rape victims face. Both these aspects have also been acknowledged in the dissenting note by one of the judges on the three-member Supreme Court bench.

HRCP has serious concerns over safety of Mukhtaran Mai and urges the government to see to it that adequate steps are taken to ensure that she is not harmed in any way by the influential accused. HRCP also hopes that the government would seek a review of the verdict and that the court will do all that it can to ensure that flaws in the police investigation are removed.

The most distressing aspect of the outcome of Mukhtaran Mai’s case is that in a country where rape remains widespread and often goes unreported verdicts such as these would discourage victims from speaking out against their tormentors or reporting the crime for fear of further agony for themselves and their families. It could also lead to increase in crimes against women as perpetrators will be confident of getting away scot free.”
Zohra Yusuf

Zohra Yusuf new HRCP head

Lahore, April 17: Ms. Zohra Yusuf and Mr. Kamran Arif were today elected chairperson and co-chairperson respectively of the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan.

The other office bearers of HRCP elected are: Treasurer Mr. Zafar A. Chaudhry, Vice chairpersons: Balochsitan, Mr. Tahir Hussain, Punjab, Ms. Salima Hashmi, Khyber Pakhtunkhaw, Mr. Sher Muhammad Khan, Sindh, Mr. Amarnath Motumal. The other members of the council elected are: Dr. Tahira Kamal, Mr. Zahoor Ahmed Shahwani, Ms. Nasreen Azhar, Mr. Saleh Zada, Mr. Jarar Hussain, Ms. Shahida Parveen, Ms. Asma Jahangir, Ms. Hina Jillani, Mr. M. A. Joseph Fransis, Ms. Nazish Ataullah, Mr. Attiqur Rehman, Mr. M. Irshad Chaudhry, Mr. Nadeem Anthony, Dr. Mehdi Hassan, Mr. Abdul Rehman Jan Sarhindi, Mr. Muneer Ahmed Memon, Mr. Ronald deSouza, Mr. Akhtar Hussain Baloch, Mr. Asad Iqbal Butt, Dr. Mohammad Ali Siddiqui, Mr. Ghazi Salahuddin, Ms. Parveen Soomro, Mr. Badaruddin Soomro and Ms. Uzma Noorani. The election was conducted by an Election Committee headed by Ms. Neelum Husain and Mr. M. I. Khan and Mr. Nasar Ali Shah as members.

( Dr. Mehdi Hassan )
former Chairperson

State institutions must tackle people’s problems: HRCP

Lahore, April 16: The institutions of the state must discard pursuit of personal agendas and join hands to reverse the worsening conditions for the populace, the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP) Executive Council said in a statement issued on Saturday at the conclusion of its two-day meeting.

The HRCP Council said, “The people have been struggling to safeguard and assert their rights amid dismal conditions across the country. But the people’s achievements in that struggle, small though they may be, reinforce belief in their ability to turn the corner. Whatever capacity human rights defenders in Pakistan, including HRCP activists, have is crucial in the circumstances but that cannot supplant the state’s responsibility to protect and ensure rights for all people. 

Balochistan: The human rights situation is grave across the country but nowhere is it more so than in Balochistan, as bulk of the problems stem from poor political management. HRCP extends solidarity and sympathy to the people in the province, who have long been struggling for their rights amid persistent injustices, discrimination, enforced disappearances and now disposal of dead bodies of missing persons by the roadside. The state must afford appropriate protection to all citizens and consider meaningful political measures to engage the disgruntled elements. All target killings, of Baloch or non-Baolch, must be unreservedly condemned by all actors, who must play their role in identifying, isolating and bringing to justice the killers.

Minorities: The religious minorities in Pakistan are faced with their grimmest hour in the country’s history. They have been victims of increased faith-based violence, and rapidly contracting space for non-Muslims.  HRCP is perturbed beyond words by reports of members of minority communities fleeing the country for the sake of safety. No well-directed effort to mitigate their suffering is visible. HRCP calls for urgent steps to address their plight.

Violence: The state’s capacity to deal with violence perpetuated in the name of religion has seriously declined, and has almost been surrendered in Punjab. There is complete impunity for individuals and groups inciting violence. The repeated cycles of killings in Karachi have left the citizens with an acute sense of insecurity. The state’s response to this bloodletting must reflect the people’s grave concern. Incidents of mob violence across the country reflect brutalization of society and people’s lack of faith in the state’s ability and capacity to provide justice. All incidents of violence, irrespective of the perpetrators, must be investigated and those found responsible should be effectively prosecuted. Reports of judicial enquiries into mob justice, target killings and violence against minority communities must be made public and the recommendations suggested given weight.

Extra-legal killings: The Commission is alarmed at continued extra-legal killings across the country, including those carried out by police in the provinces, those in the country’s conflict areas and those in the form of the so-called ‘collateral damage’. HRCP demands that every extra-legal killing should be investigated and the perpetrators tried in accordance with law. Appropriate compensation must be given to the families of the individuals killed in an unlawful manner by state agents.

Governance: The people are extremely concerned over poor governance, particularly over the institutions of the state encroaching upon each others jurisdiction. All institutions must work in unison to overcome the complex challenges facing the country. 

Local bodies: The void left at the grassroots by winding up of the local government system has exacerbated the governance crisis. The local bodies elections must be held at the earliest to enable the people to run their affairs through their elected representatives.

Tribal Areas: It is a matter of serious concern that the debate for bringing the tribal areas into the national mainstream is no longer part of the official discourse. The reform process must be set in motion at the earliest, the people of the region should be consulted and their concerns addressed.

Financial difficulties: The people’s difficulties have aggravated amid a combination of inflation, plummeting standards of living, difficulties in obtaining utilities, unemployment, crime and violence. The alarming statistics of suicides—at least 2,400 citizens took their own lives in 2010—speak volumes about the frustration and desperation of the people. The state must ensure basic human rights, such as education, health and a dignified living, for all citizens irrespective of their financial state.

Floods: It is a matter of serious concern that the devastating flood of 2010 have been forgotten and the measures required to address the needs of millions of citizens remain lacking.

Displacement: The challenges thrust upon the people by internal displacement need to be addressed on priority. All possible actions must be taken to prevent displacement from occurring and to cushion the people from its effects where displacement is inevitable.

Women & children: Violence and discrimination against women remain as insidious as ever. The state must proactively and effectively prosecute the perpetrators in every incident of violence, harassment or discrimination against women. The necessary financial and administrative commitments must be made to realize the recently acknowledged right to education. The state must come up with a clear response to the widespread violence and abuse against children and set up effective mechanisms to deter and punish violations.
Finally, the fact that Pakistan has now signed all the core international human rights treaties must lead to improved conditions for the people. HRCP calls upon its members and the civil society at large to strive for removal of the problems listed above and form larger alliances to effectively further the human rights agenda.”
Dr. Mehdi Hasan
Members of HRCP Executive Council