Factory owner was killed in police presence

Press Release, 7 August 2009

Lahore: The recent killing of a factory-owner in Sheikhupura at the hands of an angry mob took place in the presence of unarmed policemen, which reflects on poor professional capacity of the Punjab police in handling such sensitive and volatile situations, says the Human Rights Commission which conducted a fact-finding mission on the incident.

The HRCP team found out that on August 4 the police had arrived at the scene of the incident at Eastern Leather Factory Muridke when the factory-owner Mr Najib Zafar was in his office and he was wounded in a scuffle with some angry factory workers. Eye-witnesses told HRCP that the police hid Mr Najib in a store-room so as to keep him away from some violent workers.

The police men who arrived at the factory were un-armed and could not prevent the violent crowd of villagers outside the factory from entering the premises of the factory. When the provoked villagers and the factory workers teamed up to storm the store-room, the policemen looked the other way to save their own skin. The mob was free to beat the owner to death. A labourer, Muzammil, also lost his life due to a stray bullet.

HRCP found that a factory clerk, Qasim Ali, exaggerated the fall of a calendar inscribed with Quranic verses as a desecration of Quran to instigate fellow factory workers against the owner. Soon after this, extremist elements in Muridke area made provocative announcements of the alleged desecration of Quran from the mosques of nearby villages without confirming the facts and incited the common people to attack the factory owner and kill him.

HRCP observed that after the incident, a widespread fear exists among factory owners in the region that the spread of such baseless rumours by unhappy factory workers against an owner may result in a replay of similar incident.

The family of the victim, Najib Zafar, told the HRCP team that they wanted the repeal of the blasphemy law for it has been abused by the extremist people like the factory clerk, Qasim Ali, to achieve their own nefarious objectives and spread violence.

HRCP also demands of the Punjab government to hold special refresher courses for the police staff to handle such delicate situations and act professionally on such occasions.

HRCP was told that there are more than 500 workers in the factory but there exists no trade union. It believes had there been a trade union there, it would have worked to channelize and resolve the grievances of the workers and to prevent such a violent incident.

HRCP is of the view that the government must ensure the implementation of Amplifier Act so that the loud-speakers of mosques could not be used by extremist elements to spread hostility and violence as it happened recently in Gojra and now in Sheikhupura.

Asma Jahangir, Chairperson

HRCP strongly condemns Rangers brutality on PTCL workers

Press Release, July 16, 2008

 

Karachi: In a statement issued to the press, Iqbal Haider, the Co-Chairperson of Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP) strongly condemned Rangers brutality on a peaceful demonstration of the workers of PTCL, protesting against the Unified Pay Scale Scheme (UPS), outside the PTCL Headquarters, Islamabad on July 15, 2008.   

 

HRCP would like to know that under what law, the peaceful demonstrators were beaten up, baton charged, and tear-gassed.  HRCP would also like to remind the Government of Pakistan that peaceful demonstrations and raising voice for the rights, are fundamental human rights.

 

HRCP was shocked to note that instead of sympathizing and helping the working class, listening to their grievances, the administration decided to attack on the peaceful demonstrators.  HRCP was further pained when the elected Federal Government added insult to the injury by stating that Government would not allow the protesting labourers to take law in their hands.  Federal Government has totally ignored and forgotten that to protest, is an alienable fundamental right of every citizen.  To deprive them with this right and to use force to prevent them from protesting, is an inhuman act and is not only a shameful violation of the Constitution but also an abuse of authority in an oppressive manner.

 

Mr. Haider called upon the Government that instead of baton charging and tear-gassing, or preventing them from protesting for their demand, the Government should make every effort for acceptance of the demands of the workers of PTCL.

 

HRCP also demanded to take strict disciplinary action against all the concerned officials who are responsible for the lathi charge, tear gassing and injuring the peaceful demonstrators of PTCL.

Iqbal Haider, Secretary General

 

HRCP delegation met with the Chief Minister of Sindh

HRCP delegation met with the Chief Minister of Sindh

 

HRCP has been holding consultations on human rights issues confronting the country. With a new democratically elected government in power, HRCP believes it is time to share concerns and proposals with political leaders.

 

Therefore, a delegation of the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan headed by Iqbal Haider, Co-Chairperson HRCP, comprising of Uzma Noorani, Asad Iqbal Butt, Sindh Council Members of HRCP, and Ejaz Ahsan, Program Coordinator, HRCP had a meeting with Mr. Syed Qaim Ali Shah, Chief Minister of Sindh at CM House on June 5, 2008.

 

HRCP delegation shared a copy of policy statement of HRCP on critical issues of human rights, for the consideration and support of PPP leadership . This policy statement was adopted by the General Body at HRCP’s Annual General Meeting held recently.

 

CM promised moving necessary resolutions and bill for legislation wherever required, for expeditious implementation of the recommendations of HRCP on human rights issues.

 

HRCP also expressed concern over marrying off 15 under-age girls to settle tribal dispute through a jirga held in Chach village, Kashmore-Kandhkot and demanded that the provincial government take immediate action against all those responsible for the illegal and inhuman decisions and ensure immediate release of the minor girls.

 

Iqbal Haider also presented the recently published, Annual Report of HRCP “State of Human Rights in 2007” to the CM.

 

Policy Statement of HRCP Continue reading

Statement by the HRCP Annual General Meeting

Lahore, March 30, 2008

The Human Rights Commission of Pakistan welcomes the Prime Minister’s 100-day reform and relief package, in particular the lifting of the ban on students’ and trade unions, review of the PEMRA ordinance and the FCR, incentive to women workers, relief to farmers, increase in the minimum wage and expansion of employment opportunities. It is an encouraging declaration of purpose and policy.

HRCP believes that a complete break from authoritarian form of governance requires a forward looking approach to the many crises the country is facing. The foremost need is to establish democratic and responsible government, which fully respects human rights and protects its citizens. HRCP believes that while a large number of reforms are required, some initial steps are vitally needed to pave the way for an atmosphere where human rights can be respected:

1.                  The government of Pakistan should become a party to the UN Covenant on Civil and Political rights, ratify the Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, as well as the UN Convention on Involuntary Disappearances and the Convention against Torture.         

2.                  Over 1.5 million internally displaced people are in dire state in Pakistan. The government must extend humanitarian assistance to all IDPs and seek for this the co-operation and assistance of the UNHCR.

3.                  At the earliest opportunity, the Parliament should set up a permanent and independent Election Commission and disassociate sitting judges from the electoral process.

4.                   The judiciary must be restored to the position of 2 November and all criteria of independence of the judiciary be adopted, so that the selection and accountability of judges can be made transparent.

5.                  There are thousands of Pakistani prisoners in foreign jails. Over 10,000 are in Gulf countries alone. We urge the government to depute a human rights officer in missions in countries where Pakistani prisoners are suffering. A large number of Pakistani prisoners continue to suffer imprisonment in India despite court orders that they should be repatriated and there are many others who have served their sentences.

6.                  A large number of people are still on the list of the disappeared and their cases are pending in various courts for over a year. The superior judiciary too could not get these individuals freed from the illegal detention made by security and intelligence agencies of the country. The new government should order their release and record their statements, so that the perpetrators of this heinous crime can be brought to justice.

7.                  No political government can survive nor can people’s rights be protected unless the working of Pakistan’s intelligence agencies is made transparent and they are accountable to the elected authorities of the country. The Parliament should identify the laws under which the intelligence agencies of the country operate and make them accountable. A clear message must be sent out that abuse of citizens’ rights and excesses against them by security and intelligence agencies will no longer be tolerated.

8.                  Over 7000 prisoners are on the death row. In the past year, 134 convicts were executed and 309 new ones awarded death penalty. The number of people awarded death penalty and the executions are among the highest in the world. HRCP research shows that international safeguards and restrictions on the application of death penalty are almost never observed. Capital punishment is irreversible and there is strong evidence that it is being applied in the country without regard to the due process. HRCP believes that a moratorium be immediately issued on the execution of death penalty and in the meanwhile a parliamentary committee should review the application of this form of punishment.

9.                  All reports of deaths in custody, torture or through so-called encounters must be thoroughly investigated. The reports of such investigations should be filed in the courts of the District and Civil judges, and made freely available to the media and civil society.

10.             All safe houses being illegally run by the law enforcement and security forces must be closed.

11.             The government must ensure that women also benefit directly from ownership rights transferred to the disadvantaged section of society by the government.

12.             NGOs must be granted access to prisons and police stations.

13.             The Prime Minister must take a pledge from all political parties to denounce militancy and ensure that no political party arms itself.

14.             It is crucial that a high level investigation be carried out into the target killing of scores of policemen in all parts of the country so that the perpetrators are identified and brought to justice.

15.             Finally, HRCP urges members of the parliament to eliminate the misuse of authority by the political forces themselves, including the Nazims. This was particularly evident during the recent election.

16.             Repeal of Pakistan Bar Council Act amendments.

HRCP recognizes that the government is faced with serious economic challenges which require its utmost priority, but these challenges cannot be met unless the rights of the people are fully guaranteed.