Hina Jilani, Vice-President of the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan and Special Representative of the UN Secretary General on Human Rights Defenders met with French authorities

Press release

The International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH) and the World Organisation Against Torture (OMCT), in the framework of their joint programme, the Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders, invited Ms. Hina Jilani, Vice-President of the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP) and Special Representative of the Secretary General of the United Nations on Human Rights Defenders, to a series of meetings with French authorities and media today, in order to expose the situation of human rights in Pakistan.

Ms. Jilani, who faces a 90-day detention order in her country [1] , met French Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner, along with other officials.

The Observatory reiterates its deepest concern about the situation of human rights defenders in Pakistan as hundreds of lawyers and judges of superior courts have been arrested. Many of them have been subjected to ill-treatment and/or are detained in unknown locations, while many of those whose locations are known are denied access to their lawyers and their families. Among them, Ms. Asma Jahangir, HRCP Chairperson, human rights lawyer and United Nations Special Rapporteur on freedom of religion or belief, has remained under house arrest since November 3, 2007, under a 90-day detention order. On November 13, 2007. Mr. Afrasiab Khattak, former Chairperson of HRCP, was arrested, as well as some prominent lawyers in Karachi. In Lahore, many released earlier have been rearrested yesterday.

The Observatory calls on the Pakistanese authorities to put an immediate end to arbitrary arrests and detentions of human rights defenders, to release all those detained as a result of their peaceful activities in favour of human rights and the rule of law, and to cancel the detention orders against Ms. Hina Jilani and Ms. Asma Jahangir.

The Observatory also asks the Pakistanese authorities to conform with the provisions of the UN Declaration on Human Rights Defenders, adopted by the General Assembly of the United Nations on December 9, 1998, as well as with international human rights instruments ratified by Pakistan.

The Observatory finally calls on the European Union (EU) to support Pakistanese human rights defenders in accordance with the EU Guidelines on Human Rights Defenders, adopted in June 2004, and to bring a particular support to Ms. Hina Jilani when she returns to Pakistan.

For further information, please contact:
FIDH : Karine Appy, + 33 1 43 55 25 18 / OMCT : Anne-Laurence Lacroix, + 41 22 809 49 39

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