ISLAMABAD: The Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP) welcomes the official response of the Ministry of Human Rights to the publication of its annual report, State of Human Rights in 2019. The ministry’s statement recognizes that HRCP has raised some pertinent issues. This augurs well for constructive engagement between the government and independent human rights bodies.
However, some clarifications are necessary due to factual errors in the ministry’s response. Contrary to the ministry’s observations, the report specifically mentions the Zainab Alert, Recovery and Response Bill 2019 (pp. 7, 230) in the context of eliminating child abuse.
The passage of this bill into law in March 2020 will be included in HRCP’s report for 2020.
Additionally, the report refers to the commission constituted on the direction of the Islamabad High Court to examine prisoners’ civil liberties (p. 216); this commission also includes two senior HRCP members.
The acquittal of Asia Bibi and Wajih-ul-Hassan on charges of blasphemy is also documented (pp. 12, 40, 209), as is the opening of the Kartarpur Corridor (pp.10, 33, 36). Likewise, if the Protection of Journalists and Media Professionals Act is passed in 2020, it will be duly acknowledged.
HRCP’s report provides an overall picture of the state of human rights in Pakistan across federal territories and provinces during the calendar year 2019. It is not merely a performance review of a government ministry.
In doing so, the Commission’s only intent is to remind the state and incumbent government of their constitutional obligations and international commitments.
HRCP stands by its findings and hopes that the government will address the concerns raised in the report.