Saturday, 18 April 2015

State of Human Rights in 2014-Pakistan

State of Human Rights in 2014
Law and law-making
Parliament made 10 laws, less than half the previous year’s 22. Nine presidential ordinances were promulgated.
Some important laws passed by the parliament were designed to address security concerns, working of the judicial system, and issues related to terrorism, including the controversial Protection of Pakistan Act, 2014.
With provincial legislation amounting to 137, a much larger and diverse set of laws was adopted by the provincial assemblies.
The highest number of provincial acts and ordinances emerged from Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, followed by Sindh, Punjab and Balochistan during the year under review.
The Hindu Marriage Bill and the Christian Divorce Bill, which were tabled in the parliament in 2011, were still pending. No progress was possible on the Domestic Bill either.
Administration of justice
1.793 million cases were pending in courts across the country
The gap between the laws and their implementation caused crime rates and low conviction rates to grow, especially in relation to crimes against minorities and vulnerable sections of society
No efforts were seen to institute judicial and legal reforms. The legislature seemed inclined to promulgate laws that sought to promote state security at the expense of citizens’ rights and liberties
According to HRCP research 37 cases were registered during the year for offences relating to religion. Seven of the cases were registered under Section 295-C of the Pakistan Penal Code that carries a mandatory sentence of death.
Law and order
The country recorded 627,116 cases of crimes against people and property during 2014 as against 634,404 in 2013 – a nominal fall.
Sindh police registered 1,261 cases of kidnapping of women for forced marriages in 2014. There were 114 cases of acid attacks in Pakistan, involving 159 victims.
1,723 people were killed and 3,143 were injured during 2014 in 1,206 terrorist attacks – including 26 suicide hits. Sectarian violence killed 210 people.
12 doctors and 13 lawyers were killed in targeted attacks.
45 members of polio teams — vaccinators and their facilitators —were killed
HRCP monitored 63 killings of people in custody – including four women and two minors – while FIR was registered only in 14 cases. Forty-seven people including seven women underwent custodial torture.
There were 3,392 encounters in 2014 as against 2,616 in 2013 in Sindh. 925 suspects were killed in shootouts and 160 personnel of police and Rangers fell in the line of duty in Karachi. Khyber Pakhtunkhwa police killed 26 persons in encounters. Punjab police killed 276 suspected criminals and arrested 322 while 27 policemen died and 59 suspected criminals and 73 policemen got injured in 283 encounters in 2014.
Jails, prisoners and disappearances
231 persons were sentenced to death by the courts. The government lifted the moratorium on executions in the last fortnight of 2014 and by the yearend seven persons had been hanged.
Jails accross the country, except Gilgit-Baltistan, were overcrowded. The last countrywide figures available (December 2013) showed that in 97 prisons of the country there were 78,218 prisoners as against the capacity for 45,210, of whom 53,345 were under-trial. So, 24,873 or only 31% (less than one third) of the total were convicts. The December 2014 figures could not be given for some of the provinces because the authorities there were not ready to part wih the information. The total population in 32 prisons of Punjab was 49,560, 32,514 of whom were under-trial. The total population in 11 prisons in Balochistan was 2,980, 1,214 of whom were under-trial. The total population in seven prisons of Gilgit-Baltistan was 307, 212 of whom were under-trial. Other provinces did not provide the prisons data.
There were 80 HIV positive and 31 AIDS prisoners in Punjab jails
11 political activists went missing in Sindh in 2014
Freedom of movement
The freedom of movement and to choose one’s residence were compromised, directly or indirectly, on account of armed conflict, imposition of curfew or curfew-like conditions, internal displacement, lawlessness or absence of the writ of state in some areas. Cost of travel, poor road infrastructure, attacks on trains or railway tracks, and absence or shortage of means of travel also hindered movement.
Hurdles to the entry of displaced persons from FATA to some of the provinces were noticed, particularly in June and July.
Hundreds of thousands of people in debt bondage remained in conditions of virtual slavery.
Some curbs on citizens’ foreign travel under the Exit Control List and undue delay in provision of passports to citizens in the country or through Pakistani missions abroad were reported. Attacks on aircraft and on the Karachi airport, cancellation of flights by some airlines over security concerns, and the WHO recommendation regarding travel restrictions on Pakistan due to rising polio cases, represented new impediments to travel abroad.
Shia pilgrims’ buses passing through Balochistan and passenger buses and vans plying between Gilgit-Baltistan and the rest of the country had to travel in convoys under security escorts.
The state failed to ensure, in many instances, the right of women to move freely in public places, without having to be chaperoned by male relatives.
Freedom of thought, conscience and religion
11 Hindu temples and churches were attacked in Sindh. Two attacks were carried out against the Zikri sect in Balochistan.
A total of 144 incidents of sectarian violence were reported from across Pakistan, out of which 144 were sectarian-related terrorist attacks and three were sectarian clashes.
A Christian couple in Kot Radha Kishen, Punjab was lynched and burned by a mob for allegedly desecrating a copy of the Holy Quran.
A total of 11 Ahmadis lost their lives in targeted attacks.
No laws were made by the federal government to safeguard the interests of religious minorities and only two bills related to minorities were passed at the provincial level by Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.
Around 157 families belonging to religious minorities were among those displaced from FATA due to Pakistan army’s operation against militants in the region. Some of these families reported that they faced discrimination at IDP camps.
Freedom of expression
Pakistan was termed the most dangerous country in the world for media, with 14 journalists and media workers killed in 2014 alone, making a mockery of the freedom of expression.
The challenges to and constraints on freedom of expression did not decline in 2014
Government response to information requests submitted under the current laws was dismal, especially from the federal, Balochistan and Sindh governments.
The year 2014 saw some distressing new lows, from a major news network being forced off the cable operators’ list to a political figure hurling threats at journalists and the National Assembly’s standing committee wanting to impose restrictions on the scope for reporting.
Major media issues surrounded allegedly “blasphemous” content. The media faced crippling fines and blanket bans on coverage forcing many outlets to practise self-censorship.
Freedom of assembly
14 persons were killed and several hundred injured when clashes erupted between the police and Pakistan Awami Tehreek (PAT) workers on June 16
The PAT rallies were held for removal of the prime minister as well as revamping of the political system of the country
The PTI’s rallies started on August 14 in protest against alleged rigging in 64 constituencies during the May 2013 election. They ended on December 16 after an attack on a school in Peshawar.
Thousands of people, predominantly women and children, took to the streets in Panjgur, Balochistan to protest against closure of private schools under militants’ threats.
Freedom of association
134 political activists were killed in Karachi, the capital of Sindh province.
According to HRCP’s monitoring of 48 volatile districts in Pakistan, journalists and human rights defenders suffered 19 attacks in 2014. HRCP’s South Punjab Coordinator and human rights activist Rashid Rehman was shot dead on May 7 in Multan for defending a blasphemy accused.
According to the National Internal Security Policy, a document published by the government, about 60 banned organisations were operating in Pakistan.
Political participation
2014 saw the people’s active participation in political activities in the form of protests, rallies, sit-ins, social media campaigns, civil disobedience, and finally, countrywide shutdowns
PTI, PAT protests highlighted the need to rethink a balance between the people’s right to protest and the state’s obligation to protect the rights and interests of the public.
The year saw the space for marginalized groups in politics shrink even further.
The year saw the “kill and dump” policy, previously used against dissidents in Balochistan, extended to Sindhi nationalists
Unprecedented participation of women in political movements was attacked as immoral by some conservatives and retrogressive elements
PTI targeted youth participation by aiding them in procuring party’s membership
Violent attacks against religious minorities continued to hinder every aspect of their lives, including political participation.
Except for Balochistan, all provincial governments dragged their feet on fulfilling the legal and administrative requirements to hold local government elections.
The new system in Gilgit-Baltistan failed to offer a sense of empowerment to the local population.
According to Human Rights Commission of Pakistan in 2014: 597 women and girls were gang-raped; 828 raped; 36 stripped in public; 923 women and 82 minor girls – including 21 in Gilgit-Baltistan — fell victim to “honour” killings. Seven women died in acid attacks on 92 women and 13 minors. 60 women expired in other incidents like cylinder blast, stove burning and setting on fire.
Global Gender Gap Report (GGGR), 2014 ranked Pakistan second to last in gender equality globally in access to health care, education and work.
Punjab government regularized 47,000 Lady Health Workers, announced the establishment of 65 day care centres for working women and introduction of training programmes for 4,000 women from rural areas.
Khyber Pakhtunkhwa recruited 36 women as the province’s first female anti-terror squad commandos who trained alongside men. The province also established women facilitation desks at the police stations to help the female complainants.
World Health Organization in its July 17, 2014 report recorded 950,000 persons displaced due to the North Waziristan war, out of which 73% were women and children.
The Ministry of Law, Justice and Human Rights set up a 24-hour helpline 1414 for women in distress, where women could call and lodge their complaints with women police operators.
The Punjab Women Development Department launched a women toll-free helpline for women in distress operational from 8 am to 4 pm daily and accessible from all parts of the province.
Punjab Commission on the Status of Women was established to work for the empowerment and socio-economic development of women and elimination of all forms of discrimination against them.
In Sindh, the legally valid age for marriage for girls was raised to 18 years through an amendment to the Restraint of Child Marriage Act 1929.
Balochistan criminalised domestic violence by passing the Domestic Violence (Prevention and Protection) Bill, 2014 in June 2014.
Pakistan failed to achieve MDG 4 target of reducing under-five mortality to 52 per 1,000 live births by 2015.
650 children lost their lives during the year due to drought, malnutrition and lack of maternal care in Tharparkar, Sindh.
Alif Ailaan Pakistan revealed that 25 million children, 47% of all Pakistani children, were out of school. Out of these out-of-school children, 68% never attended school while 32% did go to school at some point.
The much trumpeted legislation for child protection in Sindh, Sindh Child Protection Authority Act 2011, awaited implementation in the province despite the lapse of three years since its enactment.
Sindh was the first province of Pakistan to approve a bill on prohibition of child marriage.
Sahil revealed that around 311 cases of sexual abuse of children had been reported from January to September 30 in 2014, with 214 girls and 97 boys falling prey in Rawalpindi and Islamabad.
According to HRCP monitoring, 120 children, including 27 girl children, faced corporal punishment during the year.
Pakistan ranked sixth on Global Slavery Index 2014 where child labour was most prevalent.
According to available date 1126 juveniles were incarcerated across prisons in the country including Punjab (764), Sindh (313) and Giglit Baltistan (3).
To increase the birth registration rate in Punjab, registration fees at the Union Council level were waived throughout the province under the Punjab Women Empowerment Initiative of 2014.
The European Union granted GSP plus status to Pakistan, which became effective from January 1. It calls for Pakistan’s compliance with 27 international conventions including eight ILO core labour conventions.
The Privatization Commission announced plans to privatize nine entities, which sparked countrywide protests by workers.
The International Trade Union Confederation (IUTC) Global Rights Index 2014 gave Pakistan ranking of 4 on a scale of 1- 5+. This rating signified that systematic violations of labour rights were common in Pakistan.
Punjab and Sindh governments raised the minimum wages for unskilled workers to Rs 12,000 a month, the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa government to 15,000 and Balochistan government to Rs 10,000. However, most of the workers did not benefit.
82 persons died and more than 88 were injured in at least 38 occupational accidents in 2014.
The combined federal/provincial budgetary allocation to education was the lowest in South Asia, at 2% of Gross Domestic Product (GDP)
Violent attacks on educational institutions were widespread, especially in Balochistan and the North-West. A terrorist attack on an army public school in Peshawar resulted in 150 deaths, most of them children.
Pakistan had the second highest number of out-of-school children in the world, a staggering 5.5 million, only after Nigeria.
With 306 new polio cases in the year 2014, Pakistan stood out as the worst polio-affected country. Cases here accounted for 86% of the 356 detected worldwide during the year. In total, 45 members of polio teams including vaccinators, facilitators and security personnel were killed during 2014.
The infant mortality rate was 95 per thousand as compared to 60 in other countries.
Deaths from pregnancy-related complications stood at 276 per 100,000 live births and early marriage was a major caused.
Blood transfusion services in Pakistan were neither organised nor regulated. A National Policy and Strategic Framework 2014-20 for Blood Transfusion Services (BTS) was a step in the right direction.
Pakistan lacked a proper legal framework to cover mental health patients. Only Sindh government had passed a law but it was yet to come up with rules and regulations.
Housing backlog stood at nine million units — 3 to 3.5 million units in urban areas — almost all needed by low-income families.
Despite the huge demand for housing, the overall contribution of housing finance was very low – less than one percent of the GDP.
Rental housing was found as a prohibitive option in the urban contexts in Pakistan.
Fires in inhabited areas in the country remained a major hazard.
With the adoption of Environmental Protection Act by the Sindh and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa assemblies in 2014, all provinces had legislation related to environmental protection in place.
The PTI-led government in KP planned to increase the tree cover from 20 to 30 percent.
Climate change caused food shortage and floods in many regions.
More than 200 black pond turtles, an endangered species, which had been smuggled to China, were brought back to Pakistan.
The Balochistan High Court banned the hunting of rare houbara bustard and other birds in the province.
There were around 1.5 million registered refugees from Afghanistan and a roughly similar number of unregistered Afghans in Pakistan at the end of 2014. Only 12,991 registered Afghans returned home during the year.
At least 2.56 million people were displaced from Khyber and North Waziristan regions in FATA amid security forces’ operations against extremist militants. Hundreds of thousands of citizens from other FATA districts uprooted in earlier operations remained displaced.
Large-scale flooding for the fourth consecutive year affected more than 2.5 million people. Over half a million people were displaced, mainly in the Punjab province.
Tens of thousands of desert inhabitants from Thar in Sindh and Cholistan in Punjab were forced to migrate due to drought-like conditions.
Around 40,000 people had to leave their homes in dozens of villages in Sialkot amid cross-border shelling by Indian forces.
Nothing was done to end the de facto statelessness of hundreds of thousands of Pakistanis stranded in Bangladesh since 1971.

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