Sunday July 14, 2024

Pakistan comes under tough scrutiny in review of civil and political rights

By Mobarik A Virk
July 13, 2017

Islamabad :Pakistan delegation, led by the Federal Minister for Human Rights, Kamran Michael, came under a ‘very tight’ scrutiny in the first review of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) held in Geneva Tuesday evening. 

The live-streaming of the event was arranged by the United Information Center (UNIC) at the International Labour Organisation (ILO) Islamabad office premises in collaboration with the Justice Project Pakistan (JPP). 

Once Kamran Michael finished presenting his report on the first day of the three-day ‘review’, explaining various steps taken by the government of Pakistan, including legislations done in accordance with the international convents signed, the participants started pointing out the shortcomings and asking critical questions. 

The questions were mainly focused on the lifting of moratorium on death penalty by Pakistan after the horrendous terrorist attack on the Army Public School (APS) in Peshawar and the number of executions carried out since then. 

They particularly pointed out that out of the over 400 executions since lifting of the moratorium on death penalty, very few were of those involved in acts of terror whereas most numbers of convicts awarded death penalty in cases not related to the acts of terrorism were hanged. 

They asked Pakistan to ensure that executions should be carried out only in the most serious of crimes only and every precaution and with prudence. 

The other major concerns raised by the participants about Pakistan included honour killings, child abuse, the sexual and reproductive health rights, child marriage, religious and ethnic discrimination, the inclusion of transgender in voters list, the number of abortions, both legal and illegal, incidents of rape and gang rape, child mortality and right to health and education.  The participants asked the Pakistan delegation as to why the number of cases of violence against women has increased instead of decreasing even after Pakistan did legislation on this count. Similar questions were asked about honour killings, the incidents of rape and gang rape and other human rights issues. 

The first ICCPR review is still continuing and Pakistan delegation will be answering the questions raised by the participants.  The Executive Director of the Justice Project Pakistan (JPP), Ms Sara Belal, who is also attending the ‘Review’ said that the Committee has asked Pakistan some tough questions abouts implementation of the ICCPR. 

“If Pakistan wants to retain its standing in the international community it will have to answer them. It is a process that will take time, but the government understands that there is need for reform and it is civil society’s role to engage with them and advise them on the best course of action. But there is a long road ahead and we look forward to Pakistan sides’ detailed response,” Sara Belal said. 

The Director UNIC, Mr Vittorio Cammarota, said that this was a global campaign and the reason to arrange the live streaming was to enable people of Pakistan to watch it themselves. While talking to ‘The News’, he said that today Pakistan has made its presentation before the ICCPR Review Committee. 

“Now the participants are asking questions and raising their concerns if they found any. Then the Pakistan will have the opportunity to respond to these questions and concerns over the next two days,” Mr Vittorio Cammarota said.