HRCP calls for end to enforced disappearances; free Baba Jan, others
Lahore (TP) November 10, 2020: The Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP) has called on the state to improve its human rights record to protect freedom of expression and to ensure that charges of sedition and terrorism and the practice of enforced disappearances were not used to stamp out dissent.
In a press release, the HRCP demanded that the state fulfils its moral obligation to treat both access to affordable healthcare and social security as fundamental rights and the government appointed a new chairperson to the National Commission for Human Rights and ensured it becomes fully functional and financially independent.
The HRCP expressed strong concern at the rise in wanton violence against children, women and transgender persons, as well as the surge in blasphemy cases against the Shia community. The Commission, which is following the Arzoo Raja case closely, demanded that forced conversions be stopped immediately. It also expressed alarm at the continual persecution of the Ahmadiyya community.
The commission condemned the deaths of two farmers following a protest in Lahore and demanded that the state took practical steps to improve working conditions in mines in Balochistan and Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa.
The HRCP strongly criticized the federal government’s decision to acquire the islands off the coasts of Sindh and Balochistan, adding that it would leave thousands of fisherfolk jobless. It also expressed grave concern at the slow pace of reforms in the newly merged districts of Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa and reports that growing militancy has curtailed women’s mobility and access to education.
The HRCP has also emphasized that the people of Gilgit-Baltistan deserve to enjoy the same rights and freedoms as accorded to other citizens under the Constitution and called on the government to release all prisoners of conscience including Baba Jan and others.
The HRCP, meanwhile, has elected a 31-member council for a three-year term (2020–23). Hina Jilani, internationally acclaimed human rights lawyer and former UN Special Representative on Human Rights Defenders, was elected chairperson. Seasoned human rights activist Asad Iqbal Butt was elected co-chairperson, and veteran journalist and trade unionist Husain Naqi elected treasurer. The council also elected four vice-chairs for Balochistan, Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa, Sindh and Punjab.