Oral Statement - Human Rights in Pakistan

Press release

Human Rights Situation in Pakistan
Mr. Iqbal HAIDER, Secretary General of the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (affiliated to the International Federation for Human Rights)

Thank you Mr President for giving me the floor,

The International Federation for Human Rights and the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan thank the High Commissioner for her report, and express their deepest concern about the dramatic setback in the field of human rights and the rule of law in Pakistan.

During the weeks following the proclamation of the so-called state of emergency and the suspension of the Constitution by General Pervez Musharraf, thousands of citizens, including the Chief Justice and judges of the superior courts, lawyers, journalists, teachers and students, trade union leaders and human rights defenders were – or are still being – detained, tortured or put under house arrest.

In addition, severe restrictions on the print and electronic media are persisting.

In Pakistan, the cases of enforced disappearances that were pending before the Supreme Court, are not being heard now, nor are the whereabouts of disappeared people being disclosed by the authorities.

Immediately after the proclamation of the so-called state of emergency, the Chief Justice, Mr. Iftikhar Chaudhry, along with several Supreme Court and provincial High Courts’ Judges, were dismissed, as General Pervez Musharraf personally felt threatened.

General Elections in Pakistan are scheduled for 9 January 2008. However, I have to state with regret that this election is not a step towards sustainable democracy. Unfortunately, under the present conditions, it is aimed at sustaining the dictatorship.

Ladies and gentlemen, I am sure you will all agree that there can be no right without remedy, no remedy without independent judiciary, no rule of law without the implementation of the Constitution and the laws made by Parliament.

FIDH and HRCP also recall that there can be no trade-off between effective action against terrorism and the protection of human rights. On the contrary, as stressed by Kofi Annan, “in the long term, we shall find that human rights, along with democracy and social justice, are one of the best prophylactics against terrorism."

FIDH and HRCP therefore urge the government of Pakistan to:

- forthwith release and reinstatement of chief justice Chaudhry and the judges of the Supreme Court and high courts who did not take oath under the PCO,
- forthwith withdraw the Emergency and Provisional Constitutional Order (PCO), in any case no later than 16 December 2007, as President Musharraf declared, and restore the Constitution along with all Fundamental Rights, without any unconstitutional amendments,
- forthwith appoint a truly independent, impartial and effective Election Commission,
- forthwith free all lawyers, journalists, civil society activists and political prisoners,
- forthwith appoint neutral caretaker governments at the federal and provincial levels,
- forthwith withdraw all amendments in PEMRA ordinance and restrictions on the electronic and print media, and on freedom of expression,
- forthwith withdraw all amendments in the Army Act,

FIDH and HRCP also urge the UN Human Rights Council to adopt effective measures for the implementation of the aforesaid recommendations, and to adopt a resolution firmly condemning the current situation.

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