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HRCP annual report launched on 1st April 2016 at Islamabad

state of Human Rights in PakistanLahore: Human Rights Commission of Pakistan has issued annual report about the state of Human Rights in Pakistan during 2015.The report is launched in Islamabad today.

The salient features of the report is written below;

Laws and lawmaking

  • The federal parliament made 20 laws. The president promulgated 12 ordinances.
  • The provincial legislatures adopted 120 laws. With 40 laws enacted, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa had the highest legislative output, followed by Sindh (32), Punjab (31) and Balochistan (17).
  • The provinces continued to use expanded legislative authority under the 18th constitutional amendment to enact several important laws, but implementation mechanism lagged behind.
  • Important legislation included Sindh Commission on the Status of Women Act, Balochistan Prevention and Control of Thalassemia Act, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Bonded Labour System (Abolition) Act, and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Prohibition of Employment of Children Act. Sindh and Punjab adopted laws with regard to employment of physically challenged citizens.
  • Legislation was adopted to set up eight universities across Pakistan.
  • Laws were enacted to regulate the conduct of local government elections in all the provinces, in the federal capital and in cantonments.

Administration of justice

  • The 21st constitutional and corresponding amendments to the Army Act, 1952, gave military courts jurisdiction to try all persons, including civilians and juveniles, in offences related to terrorism under military tribunals.
  • 2015 saw 324 people, most with no links to terrorism, being put to death. Another 8,000 prisoners stayed on death row.
  • There was significant positive change in application and opinion of the judiciary, in cases of blasphemy law.
  • Dispensation of justice remained protracted, with 2700 cases pending before the Supreme Court and 60,000 each in the Lahore and Sindh High Court, and 9,000 cases in the Balochistan High Court and 28,487 in the Peshawar High Court

Law and order

  • 4,612 people died through violence, a 40% decrease, as compared to 7,622 violence-related deaths last year.
  • Anti- state violence dropped below 2008 levels: 706 militant attacks took place, in which 1,325 people including 619 civilians, 348 security forces personnel, 325 militants and 33 pro-government razakars were killed.
  • HRCP noted killing of 2,108 men and seven women through police encounters across the country.
  • There were 18 suicide attacks in Pakistan, 31% less in comparison to last year.
  • Punjab reported 3,82,932 cases of crime in 2015, 6,622 less than 3,89,554 cases in 2014. Sindh saw a 42pc reduction in the number of murders in 2015 as compared to 2014. Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Balochistan witnessed 10 and one per cent surge respectively in total crime in 2015 as compared to 2014.
  • 41 terrorist attacks in 2015 (56 in 2014) targeted political leaders and workers in 25 districts of the country, which claimed the lives of 57 people and injured 75 others.
  • Five doctors and three lawyers were killed because of their faith.

Jails, prisoners and disappearances

  • 65 prisoners died in the country’s prisons in 2015.
  • 419 persons were awarded the death penalty during the year.
  • 327 death penalty convicts were hanged, making Pakistan one of the highest executing states in the world.
  • 1,390 cases of enforced disappearance remained pending with the commission of inquiry.
  • HRCP data suggested that least 151 cases of disappearances were reported in Balochistan between January and November 2015

 

Freedom of movement

  • 65,000 names were removed from the Exit Control List amid reforms. Yet, in March, some Baloch activists were restricted from travelling to the United States to attend a seminar. Subsequently, Farzana Majeed and Mama Qadeer were removed from the ECL by orders of the Sindh High Court.
  • Attacks on buses and killing and abduction of passengers restricted freedom of movement of certain ethnic and sectarian groups
  • Pakistan’s passport ranked one of the worst in the world to travel with; sharing a place with Somalia as the third worst passport in terms of travel restrictions.

Freedom of thought, conscience and religion

  • 58 incidents of sectarian violence were reported from across Pakistan. All were sectarian-related terrorist attacks; no sectarian clash was reported.
  • Hundreds of people lost their lives and many more were injured in faith-based attacks against religious and sectarian minorities
  • 22 individuals were booked on the charges of blasphemy. These included 15 Muslims, four Christians and three Ahmadis.
  • Several thousand citizens from religious minority communities were reported to have left the country over the last few years on account of faith-based violence, discrimination and persecution.

Freedom of expression

  • Killing of four journalists and a media worker with impunity and assaults on many more made Pakistan live with the dubious status of being ‘a dangerous place for journalists.’
  • PEMRA’s new code of conduct allowed auditing of live content of television channels and restrictions on live broadcasts.
  • Introduction of Prevention of Electronic Crimes Bill in January. If passed, it poses serious threats to freedom of expression in cyberspace.
  • The federal government and the provincial governments of Sindh and Balochistan were yet to democratize their outdated Freedom of Information laws under Article-19-A.

Freedom of assembly

  • Sindh and Punjab accounted for 71% of all protests in Pakistan in 2015
  • All-Pakistan WAPDA Hydro Electrical Union organized more than 70 protests in 2015
  • Protesters demonstrated consistently about issues such as the state’s failure to provide to the people electricity and gasoline, increases in the prices of basic commodities, ineffective government policies on education and minority rights as well as local political issues
  • The freedom of assembly of religious minority groups was greatly restricted and violated by several attacks on their places of worship and religious assemblies and processions
  • Violence occurred in several rallies on account of political rivalries, religious tensions and police action. 45% of riots in Pakistan in 2015 involved organised political groups and 22% were tied to elections

Freedom of association

  • HRCP documented at least 15 attacks against journalists and human rights defenders in 2015. HRCP’s monitor for South Waziristan Agency, Muhammad Zaman Meshud, was among those murdered.
  • Agricultural, domestic and home based workers, the self-employed and a vast number of the formal labour force could not form or join a union.
  • 41 attacks against political leaders and workers were reported in 2015
  • Ban on student unions remained in place.

Political participation

  • Local government elections, which were inordinately delayed, finally took place in 2015 and witnessed large turnouts.
  • The gap between the number of male and female voters increased roughly by 68,000 over the past two and half years.
  • More than 11.5 million eligible voters remained unregistered.
  • Women remained poorly represented in the federal and the provincial cabinets.
  • Minority communities in Balochsitan, Sindh and Punjab were deprived of the right to vote for their own candidates directly.
  • Reforms that would have brought about FATA people into the national mainstream eluded them for yet another year.

Women

  • Gender justice in access to education, health, economic opportunities and political empowerment continued to elude women in 2015.
  • A range of legislative changes took place at the provincial level to strengthen rights of women.
  • During 2015, as monitored by HRCP 939 women became victims of sexual violence, 279 of domestic violence. 143 women were attacked with acid or were set on fire. 833 women were kidnapped. Despite the volume of cases, the rate of prosecution remained fairly low. 777 women committed or tried to commit suicide.
  • HRCP database recorded 987 cases of honour crimes in 2015 with 1096 female victims and 88 male victims out of which at least 170 were minors.
  • For the first time in the country’s history, Balochistan and KP assemblies elected women as their speakers.
  • Lifting of moratorium on death penalty brought 47 women prisoners in line for executions, with most having no recourse to legal aid.

 

Children

  • A total of 3,768 child abuse cases occurred during this year, a 7 per cent increase leading to average of ten cases a day. Out of the total number, 1,974 victims were girls and 1,794 boys and most victims fell in the age group of 11-14 years.
  • Pakistan saw an 80% reduction in polio cases to 54 from 306 cases last year.
  • Pakistan failed to meet its Millennium Development Goal (MDG) on reducing child mortality.
  • Several bills on child protection remained pending with little progress made in 2015.
  • Approximately 10 million child workers existed in Pakistan.

Labour

  • Pakistan’s labour force stood at 60.10 million, with 56.52 employed and 3.48 unemployed.
  • National labour force participation rate -45.5 per cent – remained one of the lowest in the world, with wide gender disparity – women participation rate at 22.2 per cent.
  • The minimum wage was raised from Rs.12,000 to Rs.13,000; but due to weak regulatory mechanisms and non-compliance of labour laws, a large number of workers remained deprived of minimum wage.
  • Debt bondage, termed as a modern form of human slavery, continued to inflict miseries on an estimated 2.6 million workers in the brick kiln and agriculture sectors.

Education

  • With 25 million children out of school and literacy rate still hovering around 58% Pakistan continued to face grave difficulties in education.
  • The provinces either failed to legislate on the right to free and compulsory education for the children or implement the legislation in letter and spirit.
  • At least six schools were destroyed by terrorists in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and tribal agencies.
  • Pakistan’s birth registration stood at 34 percent
  • For children with special needs, a few projects were started in different provinces to address their educational challenges.

Health

  • Only 0.42 per cent of the GDP was spent on health.
  • Healthcare in Pakistan was administered mainly by the private sector, which accounted for 70 to 80 per cent of all outpatient visits.
  • Around 19 per cent of the population and 30 per cent of the children under the age of five were malnourished.  Life expectancy at birth was 59 years and infant mortality rate 95 per thousand.
  • There were only 1,142 hospitals, 5,499 dispensaries, 5,438 basic health units, 671 maternity and child health centers with only 175,223 doctors, 90,276 nurses and 118,041 hospital beds for a population of around 190 million.
  • Pakistan was ranked sixth amongst 22 high disease burden countries of the world. Incidence of TB stood at 231/100,000 population and prevalence of about 300 cases per 100,000 people.
  • More than 20million people in Pakistan, around 10 per cent of the population, suffered from neurological problems and disorders.
  • There were approximately 4,000 licensed pharmacies in Pakistan, but as many as 100,000 illegal merchants also sold medicines
  • The number of dengue fever cases in the country was around 10,000 in 2015
  • Total population of persons with disability (PWDs) was 5.035 million. Only 14 per cent of persons with disabilities were in work, the rest reliant on family members for financial support.

 

Housing

  • Access to housing, house-building finance, regularization of housing and land distribution schemes for the low income segment remained elusive.
  • Access to formal housing credit remained problematic, while prices of housing units continued to multiply.
  • Various anti-corruption agencies instituted land corruption cases in Karachi and elsewhere in Sindh.

Environment

  • Pakistan remained as one of the top ten countries threatened by climate change.
  • Pakistan loses almost 6% of GDP per annum due to health costs of environmental degradation.
  • Pakistan’s glacial rate of retreat went up to 23 per cent.
  • Pakistan’s forest cover which was being rapidly depleted stood at below 4 per cent.

Refugees

  • At the end of 2015, there were 1.55 million registered Afghan refugees and roughly as many unregistered Afghan nationalsin Pakistan.
  • One day before the expiry of deadline for all registered Afghans to leave Pakistan, the interior minister informed the Senate that Pakistan had no option but to extend the stay of registered Afghans.
  • 57,600 Afghans (10,183 families) returned home under the UNHCR voluntary repatriation programme till the end of November 2015.
  • More than 2.6 million Pakistanis were internally displaced. These included around 1.5 million new or previously displaced people on account of conflict
  • The de facto statelessness of around 300,000 Pakistanis stranded in Bangladesh continued.

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