Minorities under attack : Faith-based discrimination and violence in Pakistan

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A joint report launched today by FIDH and HRCP highlights the intense violence and discrimination against religious minorities in Pakistan, due to discriminatory laws and policies imposed by the government, and impunity for systematic attacks against members of minority groups by State and non-State actors.

The Pakistani authorities have failed to ensure equality, dignity, rule of law and the protection of human rights for all Pakistanis, contributing to a culture of discrimination and impunity for human rights violations against faith-based minorities,” states Zohra Yusuf, Vice-President of FIDH and Chairperson of HRCP.

The report prepared by FIDH and HRCP summarizes the areas in which the rights of faith-based minorities in Pakistan are denied, and includes recommendations on how to end institutional discrimination (such as in media and education), combat social marginalisation, and ensure that faith-based minorities are guaranteed their rights before the law. The report is based on testimonies and discussions shared during a workshop organised by FIDH and its member organisation HRCP in Karachi in January 2014, attended by representatives from various religious minorities.

Some of the report’s recommendations are directed at different bodies of the United Nations, but the report mostly addresses recommendations to the Pakistani authorities, with a view to bring Pakistan’s government bodies, legislation, and public policies in line with its international human rights obligations. In particular, the report calls for a review of Pakistan’s Constitution and Penal Code which contain discriminatory articles that many claim have led to a proliferation of intolerance and violence in Pakistan’s faith-based minorities. When such religious persecution is part of a widespread and systematic practice, which is the case in Pakistan, these attacks can be qualified as a crime against humanity.

The report was publicly launched today during a high-level panel discussion organised by FIDH and partners at the United Nations in Geneva, where HRCP co-founder and former UN Special Rapporteur on Human Rights Defenders, Ms. Hina Jilani, spoke about the dangers of repressive and discriminatory legislation, such as Pakistan’s infamous “Blasphemy Laws”.

The launch of this report is timely and important, drawing attention to the growing problem of violence and the repression of rights and freedoms in the name of religion around the world,” declared Karim Lahidji, President of FIDH. The international community must speak out against the repression of minorities of any kind, and support freedom of expression and belief for people of all faiths.

Download the report : Minorities under attack : Faith-based discrimination and violence in Paksitan

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