UN high commissioner hears civil society’s concerns

A larger group of civil society representatives later joined her for tea. All these meetings took place at the office of the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan

Lahore, June 5: The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay on Tuesday met with members of the religious minority communities and exchanged views with a gathering of civil society organisations’ representatives, lawyers and journalists here.

A larger group of civil society representatives later joined her for tea. All these meetings took place at the office of the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan.

The high commissioner briefly explained her mission to the civil society representatives but reserved her comments until the end of her visit to Pakistan when she will offer a more comprehensive response.

Representatives of minority communities raised the issues of discrimination, problems faced on account of the blasphemy law and discrimination in services and education. The civil society organisations raised issues of militancy, shrinking writ of the state, lack of security for journalists and human rights defenders, the freedom allowed to militants, the state of education, rise of extremism and intolerance among young people and children and the civil society’s concerns over the alternative dispute resolution mechanisms.

The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights had begun her four-day mission to Pakistan on 4 June at the invitation of the government.

Zohra Yusuf


HRCP slams torture on detained activists in Gilgit

Lahore, May 4: Reports of alleged torture on at least five political activists in the Gilgit Jail are exceedingly worrying and hint at the authorities’ stubborn refusal to learn from past mistake, the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan said in a statement on Friday.

“HRCP notes with concern that the five activists who have been in prison for several months continue to face very harsh treatment for protesting against the poor quality of food and delay in hearing of cases of prisoners at the jail. They have been incarcerated for protesting on behalf of the victims of forced displacement on account of the Attabad landslide in January 2010. On April 28, the five activists were reportedly visited in the jail by police and security agencies and tortured on the dubious charge of leading the protest in prison. One of the activists, Baba Jan, is said to have suffered two broken fingers and injuries to his head and other parts of his body. It is a matter of concern that despite a local court’s order he and other activists have not been examined by a doctor and have not been hospitalized in violation of the court’s order. Attempts to lodge cases against the security personnel who tortured them have also not been successful. HRCP strongly protest maltreatment of the activists in official custody. It was briefly hoped that the authorities must surely have known the futility of such tactics as well as of creating an aura of impunity for excesses by agents of the state. However, it appears that that has not been the case. HRCP demands that the basic rights and due process must not be denied to the five political activists. Those accused of torturing them must be suspended pending investigation and those found guilty punished under the law. Last but not the least the government must desist from making a terrible situation in Gilgit even worse by stubbornly sticking to its strong-arm tactics.”

Zohra Yusuf