ISLAMABAD: Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) Senator, Farhatullah Babar has said that on the eve of review by the UN of human rights situation in Pakistan, it is a grim thought that citizens’ rights have been dangerously abridged by both state and non state actors in the country.
At the Universal Periodic Review (UPR) in Geneva on Monday member states will present national reports of human rights situation in their countries and also explain the measures taken to implement the promises made at previous reviews. Foreign Minister Khawaja Asif will lead the delegation which also includes officials of human rights ministry.
Warning against falsifying human rights situation in Pakistan he said that the international community will be sympathetic towards any shortcomings in view of the challenges we face but it will never condone if we tell downright lies at the review, he said.
This year the National Commission on Human Rights (NCHR) and independent bodies will also be present at the review conference and any falsification will be far more difficult than in the past. It should also be borne in mind that our international trade particularly with the EU also hinges on our human rights record, he said.
Farhatullah Babar said that at the previous review Pakistan had agreed to criminalize enforced disappearances but the report is silent on this issue.
It would be best to make a categorical announcement at the review moot that enforced disappearances will be criminalized before the end of the year, he said.
Similarly the claim that blasphemy laws are non discriminatory and that no one has been punished under it is patently false. It will be honest to admit that the fair and just implementation of blasphemy law presents challenges that the state is trying to address, the PPP Senator added.
The professed commitment to promote freedom of expression is easily belied in the face of misuse of the Cyber Crimes Act 2016 to stifle dissent in the name of national security as in the case of a Balochistan recently charged with endangering the integrity of federation for his post on social media.
Farhatullah Babar said that death penalty was not mentioned in the government report. But the continued execution of convicts other than terrorists, the recent calls to send more cases to military courts and the Guantanamo Bay style internment centres will continue to haunt us, he said.
He also proposed a three-step formula. “Initiating a wider national debate on death penalty, criminalizing enforced disappearances and making public full details of inmates of internment centres before the end of the year will help improve human rights record as well as Pakistan’s image”.