Government’s lack of commitment at UN rights review a missed opportunity

Press release

(Lahore, Paris) The Pakistani government missed yet another opportunity to show its commitment to address key human rights issues during a United Nations (UN)-backed review, FIDH and its member organization Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP) said today.

Pakistan’s human rights situation was assessed during its third Universal Periodic Review (UPR), which was held on 13 November 2017 in Geneva, Switzerland. The outcome of Pakistan’s third UPR is scheduled to be adopted on 16 March 2018, during the 37th session of the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva.

“Despite having accepted nearly 60% of the recommendations it received, it is apparent the government of Pakistan lacks the political will to address the most serious human rights violations that plague the country, such as enforced disappearances, the persecution of religious minorities, the use of the death penalty, and the trials of civilians in military courts.”

Debbie Stothard, FIDH Secretary-General

The Pakistani government accepted 168 of the 289 recommendations it received from UN member states during the third UPR. Another 117 recommendations were ‘noted’ and four were rejected.

“Pakistan’s response to the review of its human rights situation has been inadequate. The government’s blanket refusal to commit to end the death penalty, including for juveniles and for offenses that do not meet the threshold of the ‘most serious crimes’, is particularly disappointing because this practice is in clear violation of Pakistan’s international human rights obligations.”

Mehdi Hasan, HRCP Chair

FIDH and HRCP urge the Pakistani government to immediately begin the process of implementation of the recommendations that it did not accept and that are consistent with its obligations under human rights treaties to which Pakistan is a state party.

Below is a brief analysis of the government’s response to the recommendations made by UN member states with regard to selected key human rights issues.

Death penalty

The government did not accept any of the 34 recommendations it received concerning the death penalty. These included 22 recommendations that called for the reinstatement of the moratorium on capital punishment, eight that called for the ratification of the Second Optional Protocol to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR-OP2), and four that urged an end to the imposition of the death penalty on juveniles and their executions.

Enforced disappearances

The government accepted two recommendations that called for investigations into allegations of enforced disappearances (including those involving human rights defenders). However, the government refused to commit to the ratification of the International Convention for the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearance (ICPPED).

Use of military courts for trials of civilians

The government refused to accept the two recommendations that called for an end of the use of military courts for trials of civilians.

Protection of human rights defenders

The government accepted only three of the six recommendations that called for the protection of human rights defenders and for investigations into attacks (including enforced disappearances) against them.

Right to freedom of expression

The government accepted only four of the seven recommendations that called for the adoption of measures to protect journalists and to combat impunity for attacks against them. In addition, it did not accept any of the 14 recommendations that called for the repeal or amendment of blasphemy laws as well as a recommendation that called on the government to take steps to protect freedom of expression online.

Protection of religious minorities, right to freedom of religion or belief

None of the 10 recommendations that called for the adoption of measures aimed at protecting religious minorities and the right to freedom of religion or belief enjoyed the government’s support. The government’s commitment was limited to investigating all reports of violence against religious minorities and bringing those responsible to justice.

Women’s rights

The government accepted 41 of the 54 recommendations it received with regard to women’s rights. These included 31 recommendations that called for the protection of women’s rights and the adoption of measures, including at the legislative level, aimed at preventing discrimination and violence against women and girls and ensuring punishment for all perpetrators of violence against women.

On a more negative note, the government did not accept four recommendations that called for the raising of the minimum marriage age for girls from 16 to 18 years and three recommendations that urged the ratification of the Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (OP-CEDAW).

LGBTI rights

The government failed to accept all seven recommendations that called for the protection of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and intersex (LGBTI) people from violence and discrimination and for the protection of their rights.

Press contacts
Mr. Andrea Giorgetta (English) - Tel: +66886117722 (Bangkok)
Ms. Audrey Couprie (French, English) - Tel: +33648059157 (Paris)
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