Agencies’ role in JSMM activists’ murder must be probed: HRCP

Lahore, May 5: Endorsing the observations of its fact-finding mission that probed the murder of four political activists in Sanghar district a fortnight ago, the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP) has expressed shock and disgust at police callousness and called upon the Sindh government to immediately hold a judicial probe into the brutal murders and bring the killers to justice. On April 21, three activists of the Jeay Sindh Muttahida Mahaz (JSMM) were killed when more than a dozen armed men ambushed their vehicle in Sanghar. The attackers, some of them in security agencies’ uniform, later on set the JSMM activists’ car on fire. A fourth activist in the car received serious burn injuries and died in a hospital in Karachi on April 30. The HRCP mission found reason to believe that the four political activists were killed in a premeditated manner, either by security forces personnel or in collusion with them.

The mission received reports of police failure to help the only JSMM activist who had survived the initial attack, as he pleaded to be rescued from the burning car. In fact, policemen had allegedly tried to prevent the local people from rescuing the activist by telling them that he was a terrorist. The fact finding mission reported that at least some of the attackers were in official security agencies’ uniforms, police had taken their time to get to the attack site, little had been done to prevent the escape of the attackers and the half-hearted attempts at investigating the horrendous crime needed to be probed in a transparent judicial inquiry. It noted that the assailants had attacked the activists’ car without provocation and targeted them in such a manner so as to ensure that none of them survived.

The car was later torched to ensure that evidence of the grisly killings was destroyed. HRCP said that the apathetic and callous attitude of the police on the day of the attack and afterwards was nothing short of scandalous and merited closer scrutiny. It shared the mission’s concern that the Sanghar carnage had the potential, and might well be an attempt, to create tensions between the native Sindhi and settler population in the province. HRCP expressed serious alarm at the lack of urgency shown in holding a credible and thorough probe into the matter. The Commission said that serious measures were all the more crucial amid fears that this may be the beginning of Balochistan-style killings in Sindh. HRCP said that Pakistan must learn lessons from past experience about the price it has had to pay for actions of trigger-happy security personnel and for countering political dissent with unlawful use of force. It demanded that the provincial government must hold an independent and expeditious judicial probe into the brutal murders and make the findings of the probe public. HRCP called upon the government to do everything within its power to bring the killers to justice to prevent recurrence of such brazen attacks on political activists.

Zohra Yusuf

Souhayr Belhassen receives the Takreem 2011 Arab Woman Award for

International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH)

Press release

Souhayr Belhassen receives the Takreem 2011 Arab Woman Award for
her human rights work

On Saturday, April 30, 2011, Souhayr Belhassen, the Tunisian President of FIDH, received the Takreem Arab Woman of the Year Award, during a ceremony held at the Katara cultural village in Qatar.

“I dedicate this award to the women and men who have brought about the Tunisian revolution. I dedicate this award to all the revolutions that are taking place in the Arab world”, declared Souhayr Belhassen during the award ceremony.

The Takreem Achievement Awards aim to reward the great personalities of the Arab world who have distinguished themselves through their remarkable work and success in different fields. The “Woman of the Year” category pays homage to women who, through their activities, contribute to the repute of the Arab region worldwide.
The ceremony presented the laureates of the second edition of the “TAKREEM Arab Achievement” awards in various categories.

The jury included Mohamed El Baradei, winner of the 2005 Nobel Peace Prize; Hanan Ashrawi, a Palestinian parliamentarian; and Lakhdar Brahimi, former UN Under-Secretary-General.

Further information :

Martin Ennals Awards

The ICJ is pleased to announce that the 2011 winner of the Martin Ennals award is Kasha Jacqueline Nabagesera.

Kasha Jacqueline is a co-founder and Executive Director of Freedom and Roam Uganda, an LGBT rights organization in Uganda. Kasha is a bold and courageous human rights defender. She regularly appears on television and radio programs in Uganda and is outspoken in her defense of human rights. Kasha has been at the forefront of the civil society
campaign against the Anti-Homosexuality Bill, which would impose the death penalty for certain acts of “aggravated homosexuality” and also criminalizes freedom of expression and association concerning promotion
of homosexuality. Kasha was one of the three petitioners in the case against Rolling Stone, a Ugandan newspaper that had published photographs and addresses of “Uganda’s Top Homos” and urged readers to “hang them.” In January 2011, the High Court of Uganda at Kampala found that the newspaper had violated the petitioners’ rights to respect for
human dignity and privacy and issued an injunction.

The ICJ has tremendous respect for Kasha and her colleagues and will
continue to work with and support them in their efforts against injustice.

The Chairman of the Jury of the MEA, Hans Thoolen, describes the
laureate as “an exceptional woman of a rare courage, fighting under
death threat for human dignity and the rights of homosexuals and marginalised people in Africa.”

The Ceremony of the Martin Ennals Award will take place in the Victoria Hall of Geneva later this

Special fact-finding mission to Balochistan

Lahore May 02: Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP) is sending a special fact-finding mission to Balochistan.

Teams of the mission will visit Turbat, Khuzdar and Quetta to get first hand knowledge about the human rights situation in different regions of the province.

The HRCP mission teams will hold meetings with the members of the families of disappeared persons including human right defenders, (many of whom were killed and their deadbodies thrown on roadside) lawyers, teachers, students, political parties leaders, representatives of business, industry and trade unions, Government leaders and high officials.
Zohra Yusuf
Chairperson, HRCP

Egypt: ICJ high-level mission calls for the establishment of effective democratic institutions and accountability for human rights violations


For immediate release                          Cairo, 27 April 2011

Egypt: ICJ high-level mission calls for the establishment of effective democratic institutions and accountability for human rights violations

The International Commission of Jurists (ICJ) today called upon Egypt’s Supreme Council of the Armed Forces and the transitional government to take immediate concrete measures to end the practice of torture and arbitrary detention; pursue accountability for serious human violations; ensure that civilians are not prosecuted before military courts; and adopt, in accordance with international standards, legal and policy reforms necessary to establish the Rule of Law and effective democratic institutions in Egypt.

The statement comes as the ICJ concluded a high-level mission to Egypt aimed at assessing the Rule of Law and human rights situation in the country following the ouster through popular protest of the regime of Hosni Mubarak on 11 February 2011.

The mission was headed by ICJ President Pedro Nikken, who was accompanied by ICJ Commissioner Justice Kalthoum Kennou, and ICJ Legal Adviser for the Middle East and North Africa Saïd Benarbia. The delegation met with the Egyptian Minister of Justice, Mohamed El Gendy; Senior Officials of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs; and members of the judiciary, the legal profession and civil society.

The ICJ urged the Egyptian authorities to undertake major reforms of the Egyptian legal system, including by adopting a new Constitution which safeguards the Rule of Law and human rights; ending immediately the 30 year old state of emergency; and dismantling the legal framework related to the state of emergency, including the special courts and elements of the Penal Code and the Code of Penal procedure that severely restrict the enjoyment and exercise of human rights and freedoms.