Universal Periodic Review – Third National Report of Pakistan

On November 13, 2017, Pakistan’s Minister of Foreign Affairs, H.E. Mr. Khawaja Muhammad Asif, presented the third national report of the Universal Periodic Review of Pakistan on the developments regarding the situation of human rights and fundamental freedoms and implementation of previous recommendations since the beginning of the 2nd UPR cycle in 2012. During its UPR held in October 2012, Pakistan accepted 126 recommendations. The national report draws on information by various stakeholders, including Government Departments, Civil Society Organizations, and mass media.

 

Presentation of the National Report

During the presentation of the third national report, the Foreign Minister highlighted the developments in the area of human rights and fundamental freedoms since the previous review, outlined the status of implementation of accepted recommendations, and discussed challenges as well as national priorities and commitments for the promotion and protection of human rights. He described the Constitution and duty towards the Pakistani people as foundations for Pakistan’s commitment to human rights, which first and foremost entails equality, dignity and freedom for all Pakistani citizens, as put forward by the Founding Father, Quaid-e-Azam Muhammad Ali Jinnah. Therefore, the Government is committed to the advancement of the mutually reinforcing objectives of development, human rights and democracy.

Outlining the progress made in the period under review, The Minister of Foreign Affairs of Pakistan stated that Pakistan’s democracy had flourished since the last UPR, owing to an elected and sovereign parliament, an independent judiciary, a free media and a vibrant civil society. He underlined that the government’s commitment to human rights must be examined against the backdrop of the extraordinary threat of terrorism and extremism. According to the delegation, the reporting period marked a critical turnaround in terms of progress in security and terrorism as significant counterterrorism measures had been introduced. The lift of the moratorium on death penalty was explained as a necessary consequence of counterterrorism, and its execution was described as compliant with international norms.

To ensure mainstreaming of human rights in policy priorities and national discourse, Pakistan had established the Ministry of Human Rights, Provincial Human Rights Departments, and Human Rights Committees at district-levels, and had inaugurated the National Action Plan on Human Rights, among others. Moreover, it had taken decisive legislative measures to fulfill its international human rights obligations, including ratification of the Optional Protocol to the CRC on the Involvement of Children in Armed Conflict, and had cooperated with relevant Treaty Bodies.

Regarding the rights of minorities, the Minister emphasized that they enjoyed the Constitutional freedoms of religion and worship. Extremism and sectarianism was described as import from the Cold War era and result of ideological competition among foreign powers. Pakistan was taking serious actions to combat hate speech, which had resulted in instances of allegations of blasphemy and religious discrimination. As a developing country, Pakistan prioritizes economic and social rights.

The Secretary for Human Rights stressed that Pakistan had fostered its promotion and protection of human rights through institutional, legal and policy measures, in spite of substantial obstacles. The establishment of the Ministry of Human Rights, Treaty Implementation Cells, independent and well-funded human rights institutions, the human rights cell in the Supreme Court, were noted. Legislative measures were being taken to prohibit practices targeting women and to ensure marriage rights. Vision 2025 set the focus on ending discrimination against women and promoting their socio-economic potential.

 

Compilation of the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights

Such compilation draws on reports of treaty bodies and special procedures and other relevant UN documents.

Scope of international obligations and cooperation with international human rights mechanisms and bodies

A number of treaty bodies, special procedure mandate holders and UN entities recommended that Pakistan ratify:

•    The International Convention on the Protection of the Rights of All Migrant Workers and Members of Their Families;

•    The International Convention for the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearance;

•    The Optional Protocols to

o    The International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights;

o    The International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights;

o    The Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women;

o    The Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment; and

o    The Convention on the Rights of the Child.

•    The 1951 Convention relating to the Status of Refugees and its 1967 Protocol;

•    The 1954 Convention relating to the Status of Stateless Persons;

•    The 1961 Convention on the Reduction of Statelessness;

•    The Protocol to Prevent, Suppress and Punish Trafficking in Persons, Especially Women and Children;

•    The International Labour Organization (ILO) Home Work Convention, 1996 (No. 177) and Domestic Workers Convention, 2011 (No. 189);

•    The Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court; and

•    The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) Convention against Discrimination in Education.

 

It was positively noted that Pakistan has contributed annually to OHCHR since 2012. Yet, the failure of the Pakistani authorities to grant the OHCHR access to Pakistan-administered Kashmir, in view of allegations of serious human rights violations, including excessive use of force, had been deplored by the High Commissioner in 2016.

National human rights framework

The UN country team noted the establishment of the National Commission for Human Rights in 2015 and the adoption of the National Human Rights Action Plan in 2016. Its mandate and responsibilities should be line with the Paris Principles and sufficient funding should be allocated, according to the Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (CESCR) and the Human Rights Committee.

The Committee against Torture was deeply concerned that the Chairman of the Commission had not received travel authorization and had thus been unable to participate in its briefing. It also criticized that the Commission was unable to inquire into the practices of the intelligence agencies and was not authorized to conduct full inquiries into reports of human rights violations by members of the armed forces. The Human Rights Committee recommended that Pakistan strengthen the power of the Commission and guarantee its ability to investigate all allegations of violations under the ICCPR, committed by any official entity.

The UN country team was concerned about the weak capacity of the Ministry of Human Rights to assess the implementation of recommendations made by international human rights mechanisms as well as about the weak capacities and overlapping and vague mandates of human rights institutions. UNESCO criticized the seeming lack of initiatives to develop educational courses on human rights, in accordance with previous recommendations.

OHCHR assessment of the implementation of the recommendations and the international human rights obligations

Equality and non-discrimination: CESCR recommended the revision of articles 25 to 27 of the Constitution to ensure non- discrimination and the adoption of comprehensive anti-discrimination legislation. The Human Rights Committee made a similar recommendation. Several treaty bodies called on Pakistan to end discrimination against scheduled castes (Dalits). CERD and CAT were deeply concerned at the high incidence of hate crimes and violence against members of ethnic and religious minorities and the impunity of perpetrators. CERD recommended that Pakistan end violence against minority groups, combat segregation and ensure full equal rights.

The UN country team was concerned that HIV high-risk populations continued to face discrimination in accessing sexual and reproductive health information and services. It welcomed that transgender persons will be counted for the first time in the national census. CESCR recommended that Pakistan decriminalize same-sex relations and combat discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity. HRC made a similar recommendation.

Development, the environment, and business and human rights: The UN country team urged Pakistan to reduce population vulnerability to the impacts of floods and droughts. CRC recommended an assessment of the effects of polluted air, water and soil on children’s health, to design a strategy to remedy the situation.

Human rights and counter-terrorism: While acknowledging the security challenges faced by Pakistan, the Working Group on Enforced and Involuntary Disappearances (WGEID) condemned enforced disappearances. CAT expressed concern about the elimination of legal safeguards against torture in counter-terrorism legislation. HRC recommended that legislation relating to the military courts be reviewed to abrogate their jurisdiction over civilians and their authority to impose death penalty. CAT was also concerned about the extensive powers given to the Army to detain people suspected of terrorist activities without charge or judicial supervision. CRC was gravely concerned about the large number of children killed as a result of counter-terrorism activities and acts of terrorism, including the killing of 142 children in an attack on a school in Peshawar in 2014. This was also condemned in the strongest terms by OHCHR and the Special Rapporteur on the right to education.

Civil and political rights

Right to life, liberty and security of person: The High Commissioner and HRC urged Pakistan to reinstate the moratorium on the death penalty and to consider abolishing the death penalty. A group of special rapporteurs also warned against the resumption of the death penalty for terrorists acts. The High Commissioner noted that more than 8,000 people, including juveniles, remained on death row. CRC, the Special Representative of the Secretary-General on Violence against Children and a group of special rapporteurs condemned the execution of juveniles. WGEID regretted that most of its recommendations had not been implemented and reiterated its grave concern about the widespread practice of enforced disappearances. It urged Pakistan to immediately criminalize enforced disappearance. CAT was deeply concerned at the widespread use of torture by the police to obtain confessions and recommended that Pakistan take measures to ensure legal prohibition of torture and accountability. CAT and HRC were concerned at overcrowding and deplorable conditions detention facilities.

Administration of justice, including impunity, and the rule of law: The Special Rapporteur on the independence of judges and lawyers recommended that Pakistan urgently improve the formal justice system in order to discourage recourse to informal “justice” systems. CAT was concerned about reported discrepancies in the administration of justice, including with respect to the jurisdiction of the Federal Sharia Court. The Special Rapporteur also recommended the ban of informal justice systems. CERD remained concerned that persons belonging to ethnic and religious minorities, refugees and the scheduled castes (Dalits) had limited access to justice. UNESCO urged Pakistan to continue to investigate the cases of killed journalists. WGEID and CAT observed that there was a climate of impunity with regard to enforced disappearances and torture, respectively.  CESR was concerned at the prevalence and magnitude of corruption among high-level officials.

Fundamental freedoms and the right to participate in public and political life: Several stakeholders called on Pakistan to adopt urgent measures to stop faith-based killings, discrimination, and violence fueled by blasphemy laws. UNESCO recommended that Pakistan decriminalize defamation and place it within a civil code. Concern was also expressed at the curtailing and criminalization of legitimate forms of expression, including of religion and belief, and infringement of privacy through to the Prevention of Electronic Crimes Act of 2016. CESR was concerned that the minority quota in the national and provincial parliaments and in public services was applied only to religious minorities.

Prohibition of all forms of slavery: Several treaty bodies were concerned that bonded labour practices persisted. The ILO Committee of Experts on the Application of Conventions and Recommendations expressed concern at the high number of working children who were under the minimum age for work. It urged Pakistan to strengthen efforts to remedy the situation and to eliminate trafficking of persons under 18. Pakistan was urged to take measures to eradicate and combat human trafficking and forced labour and to ensure accountability of perpetrators and redress for victims.

Right to privacy and family life: The UN country team welcomed the approval of the Hindu Marriage Bill (2016) and encouraged the immediate implementation of this and related bills. Several treaty bodies were concerned that the minimum age for marriage for girls varied across provinces.

Economic, social and cultural rights

Right to work and to just and favourable conditions of work: CESCR was concerned at the lack of adequate legislative or policy frameworks on labour protection and criticized that the minimum wage level varied among provinces and was insufficient. It was also concerned at the absence of legislation on occupational safety and health and the devastating consequences thereof.

Right to social security: CESCR recommended the improvement of comprehensive social security schemes to guarantee adequate standard of living and to establish national social protection.

Right to an adequate standard of living: CESR was concerned at the high scale of poverty and at the increasing trend of landownership concentration. It recommended addressing acute hunger and malnutrition. Moreover, it was concerned at the acute shortage of adequate housing, the lack of related provisions and social support, and the execution of forced evictions. The lack of access to safe drinking water and adequate sanitation facilities were also criticized.

Right to health: CESR recommended efforts to increase public expenditure in the health sector, further expand the coverage of the National Health Insurance Programme, strengthen its public health system with a view to providing free, quality, basic health services to all, including disadvantaged and marginalized individuals, and reduce the maternal, infant and under-5 mortality rates. CEDR and CRC noted the particularly critical situation of women and children, demanding Pakistan to improve the health situation, including reproductive health.

Right to education: CESR and the UN country team recommended that Pakistan intensify efforts to ensure that all children enjoyed, without discrimination, the right to education, to enhance WASH conditions and security at schools, and improve the quality of education. CESR recommended eliminating social segregation in the education system by ensuring an education of equal quality to all children in all public and private schools. CESR and HRC were concerned that some school curricula and textbook had the potential to incite hatred against religious and ethnic minorities.

Rights of specific persons or groups

Women: CEDR was concerned about the existence of multiple legal systems regarding marriage and family relations and their discriminatory impact on women. CERD urged Pakistan to end forced conversion and forced marriage of Christian and Hindu Dalit women. CRC remained extremely concerned about serious discrimination against girls and the persistent gender disparity in infant mortality rates and school enrolment rates, the persistence of early marriage and the exchanges of girls for debt settlement, as well as domestic violence targeting girls. The UN country team was concerned about the lack of data collection mechanism on violence against women. CEDAW was concerned about the impact of the escalation of violence on women and girls as well as about the violent attacks and public threats targeting female students, teachers and professors. It also deplored the high prevalence of domestic violence and marital rape and lacking criminalization. CRC expressed serious concern about rising infanticides targeting girls.

While noting the adoption of relevant legislation, CAT was concerned about the reportedly high level of violence against women, including murder, rape, acid crimes, kidnappings, domestic violence and so-called “honour” killings and the impunity of perpetrators. CEDAW reiterated its concern at the low participation of women in the judiciary of the superior courts and the total absence of women judges in the Supreme Court. CEDAW called upon Pakistan to amend relevant laws in order to increase the quotas allocated for women in the National and Provincial Assemblies and in the Senate and to establish a procedure for filing complaints in cases of forced disenfranchisement. CEDAW recommended that Pakistan improve the literacy rate and school enrolment of women and girls.

Children: CRC reiterated its previous recommendation that Pakistan combat and prevent any form of discrimination against children belonging to religious or other minority groups. It remained concerned at the low rate of birth registration (30 percent), in particular due to complicated procedures and high fees and the lack of effective measures to ensure the birth registration of children belonging to marginalized and disadvantaged groups. It also condemned the reports of systematic and widespread torture and ill-treatment of children in police stations and prisons. The UN country team encouraged Pakistan to urgently implement the provisions of the 2000 Juvenile Justice System Ordinance, including the establishment of juvenile courts. A large number of children continue to be victims of sexual abuse, exploitation, rape and abduction, including by the Taliban; and are targeted for recruitment and training by armed groups.

Persons with disabilities: A group of special rapporteurs and the HRC urged Pakistan to immediately end and criminalize the execution of persons with disabilities. CESR recommended that Pakistan take the necessary steps to bring the definition of disability in its legislation in line with CRPD and to develop and implement a legislative and policy framework on inclusive education for children with disabilities.

Minorities: CESR recommended that Pakistan take urgent legal measures to recognize the status of minorities other than religious minorities, including racial, ethnic and linguistic minorities, to guarantee their relevant rights and benefits from the policies and programs designed for the protection of minority groups.

Refugees, asylum seekers and internally displaced persons: HRC welcomed the adoption of the Comprehensive Policy on the Voluntary Repatriation and Management of Afghan Refugees and the plan to conduct registration of undocumented Afghans. However, it criticized the delayed national refugee law and arbitrary arrests, harassment and threats of deportation against Afghan refugees by the police and security forces. Several treaty bodies made similar comments. CAT recommended that Pakistan amend its legislation and practices to fully adhere to the principle of non-refoulement. CERD was concerned at restricted access by unregistered refugees to public services and deplorable living conditions in refugee camps and urban informal settlements. The UN country team recommended the full implementation of the Constitutional right to free and compulsory education for all children regardless of their national identity. The Special Rapporteur on the human rights of internally displaced persons condemned the horrendous attack on the Jalozai camp. Several treaty bodies and the country team encouraged Pakistan to ensure adequate protection and assistance for IDPs.

Summary of stakeholders’ submissions on Pakistan drafted by the OHCHR

The summary was prepared by the OHCHR taking into consideration the contributions by 43 stakeholders’ submissions to the UPR.

Scope of international obligations and cooperation with international human rights mechanisms and bodies

A number of submissions recommended that Pakistan become a party to ICCPR-OP1, ICCPR-OP2, OP-ICESCR, ICPPED, ICRMW, OP-CAT, OP-CRC-IC, OP-CEDAW, OP-CRPD, the Rome Statute of the ICC, the 1951 Convention relating to the Status of Refugees and its 1967 Protocol, Protocol to Prevent, Supress and Punish Trafficking in Persons especially Women and Children, and ILO Convention No. 189 on domestic workers. Several organizations recommended that Pakistan extend a standing invitation to special procedures.

National human rights framework

It was noted that Pakistan had failed to develop follow up plans for implementation of previous UPR recommendations. Several stakeholders noted that NCHR has a limited mandate and resources to investigate human rights violations, particularly involving the armed forces and security agencies. NCHR and others recommended the establishment of the long awaited independent National Commission on the Rights of the Child and the establishment of a National Council for the Rights of Minorities in consultation with affected groups. NCHR criticized that the transfer of responsibilities with regards to human rights to the provinces had resulted in overlapping mandates and confusion.  With regards to human rights education in school curricula, the need for effectiveness and involvement of National and Provincial Human Rights Commissions and human rights experts from religious minorities was underlined.

Implementation of international human rights obligations, taking into account applicable international humanitarian law

Equality and non-discrimination: Discrimination against religious minorities was stated to be embedded in several laws and the Constitution. Those legislative measures supporting minorities lack implementation. Blasphemy legislation fostered societal attitudes of discrimination against religious and ethnic minorities. Political participation of religious minorities remains absent, while the posts of President, Prime Minister and Speaker of National Assembly are constitutionally limited to Muslims. The only type of employment allocated for minorities was generally low-skill employment. Hindus and Christians were suffering severe discrimination, while Scheduled Castes/ Dalits suffered double or intersecting forms of discrimination in all spheres of life. LGBTIQ individuals continue to face discrimination, harassment, mistreatment and exclusion from society.

Development, the environment, and business and human rights: The China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) is being implemented against the express will of the local indigenous population. In Balochistan, people were already suffering from related land grabs and enforced displacement.

Human rights and counter-terrorism: Pakistan had approved secret military courts to try civilians and impose the death penalty in terrorism-related offenses. Arbitrary arrest and detention in continue to be reported in connection with counter-terrorism operations. Drone attacks continue to kill civilians.

Civil and Political Rights

Right to life, liberty and security of person: Pakistan’ decision to lift the moratorium on the death penalty contravened repeated UPR recommendations. Alleged child offenders continue to face death penalty. Brutal sectarian violence and killings of human rights defenders in Balochistan had forced most NGOs to close their offices. Human rights defenders defending the rights of women in the tribal areas face substantial threats to life. Extra-judicial killings often follow prolonged enforced disappearance and disproportionately affect political activists. HRDs involved in issues of minority rights, religious freedom and land-grabs were at increased risk of enforced disappearance. Pakistan had enacted new legislation that facilitated forms of secret, unacknowledged, and incommunicado detention. The State had also failed to ensure accountability for enforced disappearances. Confessions obtained through torture were used to hand down death sentences. Domestic law did not provide for an independent mechanism to monitor the conditions of prisons, which do not comply with international provisions.

Administration of justice, including impunity and the rule of law: It was stated that the criminal justice system had completely collapsed, particularly due to the Government’s outsourcing of the entire judicial process to the military. The proceedings before military courts failed to comply with national and international fair trial standards. It was recommended that Pakistan ensure the abolition of the military courts and parallel justice system in the form of jirgas. Fabricated charges of blasphemy had been used repeatedly against human rights defenders. Perpetrators of attacks on journalists continue to escape unscathed. While religiously motivated violent incidents were increasing, law enforcement agencies rarely conducted investigations. Impunity continues to reign in cases of enforced disappearances and extra-judicial killing. Crimes had been committed in broad daylight, by uniformed security personnel, or by men arriving in police vehicles. Legislation shielded security agencies from criminal proceedings and impeded victims’ right to remedy.

Fundamental freedoms and the right to participate in public and political life: Despite the constitutional guarantee of minority rights to freely practice their religion, religious minorities faced discrimination in both law and practice. Shia community had faced systematic persecution in the form of sectarian violence. The Penal Code criminalizes the self-identification as Muslim and participation in Islamic culture and worship of Ahmadis. Ahmadis were often violently persecuted and sometimes murdered by non-state actors. Forced conversion and marriage of non-Muslim girls had noticeably increased. Pakistan had made no effort to comply with numerous recommendations to modify/repeal blasphemy laws and had employed them against minorities, HRDs and journalists, and professors and higher education institutions. Censorship of broadcast channels and programs had been imposed by the Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority. New legislation for the regulation of international NGOs gave powers to the Ministry of Interior to review their registration based on their funding sources and the nature of their programs. Pakistan had voted against the General Assembly resolution on human rights defenders. Ahmadis were denied the right to freely and fairly vote in local, provincial and national elections and thus lacked representation, be it national, provincial or district level.

Prohibition of all forms of slavery: Bonded labour was widespread, particularly in agriculture and brick making, and the majority of victims were Scheduled Caste Hindus, Christians and Sikhs. Even in provinces having adopted the Bonded Labour System (Abolition) Act, the Government had failed to secure a single conviction of perpetrators.

Right to privacy and family life: The Prevention of Electronic Crimes Act was cited as posing a serious threat to the right to privacy. It was recommended that Pakistan take measures to ensure that its State security and intelligence agencies respect the right to privacy; ensure that all interception activities comply with the principles of legality, proportionality and necessity; and ensure that they are subject to independent oversight mechanisms. Several laws have been adopted protecting Hindu marriages and family rights, while Christian divorce and marriage acts remain inconsistent with the standards of gender equality in marriage.

Economic, Social and Cultural Rights

Right to work and to just and favourable conditions of work: NCHR noted that economic growth had been unequitable and a significant proportion of workers earned less than 100USD per month, recommending the implementation of minimum wage standards. It also recommended strengthening legal provisions on occupational health and safety in compliance with ICESCR.

Right to an adequate standard of living: Pakistan had not complied with its commitments to achieve the MDGs, specifically those related to eradicating child poverty, achieving universal primary education, reducing mortality rates and improving maternal health. Specific plans of action to achieve the SDGs were missing.

Right to health: NCHR noted that the Government spent barely 0.42 per cent of the GDP on health and recommended immediately raising the GDP allocation on health. Gender inequalities in access to education and health care persist, restricting women’s and girls’ access to basic health care.

Right to education: Education remains underfunded, with less than two per cent of the GDP being allocated to education, and suffers from a lack of quality and unequal access or outright discrimination. Almost one in every five children of primary school age was not in school. Growth of privatization of education further infringes upon the realization of the right to education.

Rights of specific persons or groups:

Women: Efforts to eliminate gender inequality remain sparse and women continue to face discrimination in the legal system, particularly in view of family laws. Recommendations on violence against women and domestic violence had been partially implemented. The Offences in the Name or Pretext of Honour Act 2016 and Anti-Rape Law contain loopholes, which left room for perpetrators to escape punishment. Underreporting, lack of evidence, and a perceived religious justification constitute challenges to persecution of related crimes. Minority women were doubly subject to discrimination for being a woman and a minority, including kidnapping and forced conversion. Women continue to face restricted access to justice and are denied political rights, such as the right to vote in various parts of the country.

Children: Legal and administrative measures to remove obstacles to birth registration, particularly for vulnerable children in society, must be taken. Corporal punishment of children must be prohibited in all settings. Child workers were among the most susceptible to sexual exploitation. The minimum age of criminal responsibility had been increased from seven to ten years.

Persons with disabilities: Adequate safeguards with regards to adequate health care, support, and participation in the judicial process for persons with disabilities had not been put in place. Some individuals were on death row in deplorable conditions, including solitary confinement.

Minorities and indigenous peoples: Pakistan had not recognized non-religious minorities, such as the Sindhi, Balochi or the indigenous predominantly Shia peoples of Gilgit-Baltistan. Many indigenous peoples continue to be refused recognition and are referred to as ethnic minorities.

Refugees and internally displaced persons: Refugees were being repatriated to a third country, which continued to experience conflict and instability, possibly in violation of the prohibition of non-refoulement. Refugees and IDPs continue to be marginalized and discriminated against.

 

Interactive dialogue during the 28th Session of the UPR

During the presentation of the third national report of Pakistan, H.E. Mr. Khawaja Muhammad Asif presented the improvements achieved by the country in the implementation of the recommendations accepted after the 2012 UPR session.
Interventions followed during which 111 delegations, after welcoming the delegation of Pakistan and commending the efforts made to implement previous UPR recommendations and to improve the overall human rights situation, made a number of recommendations. These particularly pertained to the rights of minorities, religious intolerance, the reform or abolishment of the blasphemy law, and the re-establishment of a moratorium on the death penalty.

Several Member States recommended Pakistan to consider ratifying the two Optional Protocols to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and to immediately declare a moratorium on executions with a view to abolishing the death penalty. Pakistan was recommended to accede to the Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women, and to continue strengthening the legislation aimed at the elimination of all forms of discrimination against women. Moreover, Member States asked Pakistan to ratify the International Convention for the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearance and to adapt its national legislation to the relevant international standards. The country was also asked to ratify the Optional Protocol to the Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment and to establish national preventive mechanism in accordance with the Convention. Pakistan’s accession to and adaptation of its national legislation to the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court was strongly suggested. Member States also recommended Pakistan’s ratification of the following Conventions and Protocols:

•    The Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities;

•    The International Convention on the Protection of the Rights of All Migrant Workers and Members of Their Families;

•    The Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Rights of the Child on a Communications Procedure;

•    The Protocol to Prevent, Suppress and Punish Trafficking in Persons, Especially Women and Children;

•    The 1951 Convention relating to the Status of Refugees and its 1967 Protocol;

•    The Convention on the Reduction of Statelessness;

•    The International Labour Organization Convention No.169 concerning Indigenous and Tribal Peoples;

•    The Arms Trade Treaty;

•    Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons.

 

Regarding cooperation with UN mechanisms, Several Member States recommended that Pakistan respond positively to pending visit requests of Special Procedures and extend standing invitations to Special Procedure mandate holders.

Pakistan received the recommendation to continuously ensure that its national legislation is in accordance with its international human rights obligations. In specific, it was asked to consolidate its national human rights institutions – notably the Ministry of Human Rights, the National Commission on Human Rights, the National Commission on Status of Women, and the Commission for Minorities – and provide them with adequate human and financial resources to carry out their mandates effectively and independently. Pakistan was also advised to continue its efforts to implement the National Action Plan on Human Rights and the 2025 Vision initiative, to further the Sustainable Development Goals. A number of delegations counseled Pakistan to continue to provide human rights education and training for judicial and law enforcement officials as well as for government officials and other relevant stakeholders.

With regards to its national legislative framework, Pakistan was recommended to adopt comprehensive legislation to combat all forms of discrimination based on gender, ethnicity, caste and religion, especially against marginalized and vulnerable groups including women and religious minorities, in compliance with its international obligations. In particular, the country was urged to adopt effective legislative and practical measures to prevent and punish all forms of discrimination against minority groups, including by improving efforts to investigate complaints and prosecute those that commit crimes against ethnic and religious minorities like the Hazaras, Dalits, Sikhs, Christians, Hindus and Ahmadis. In this regard, Pakistan was asked to strengthen the protection of religious minorities, in particular by guaranteeing freedom of religion and belief for all in law and in practice. To this end, the State was also urged to repeal or amend its national legislation on defamation and blasphemy in accordance with international human rights standards.

Some Member States called on Pakistan to take all necessary measures to protect the rights of the child, particularly during counter-terrorism activities, and by strengthening the juvenile justice system. A vast number of delegations urged Pakistan to reinstitute its moratorium on the use of the death penalty, aimed at the abolition of the practice.

Pakistan was advised to criminalize enforced disappearance and ensure investigations into all allegations of and accountability for enforced disappearances, torture, and extrajudicial executions. The country was urged to reform the criminal justice system in accordance with international standards, particularly regarding the right to a fair trial, right to appeal to civilian courts and the right to a public hearing. It was asked to abrogate the jurisdiction of the military courts over civilian cases in terrorism related offences. Numerous Member States asked Pakistan to implement fully the national strategic framework against trafficking in persons and human smuggling, as well as the National Framework Programme to combat child and bonded labour.

Furthermore, States recommended Pakistan to continue its efforts to ensure social equity and poverty reduction, and to ensure equal access to education and medical care. In specific, all children should be guaranteed quality education, regardless of social status, gender and ethnicity. Pakistan was advised to continue efforts to promote and protect the fundamental right of women, including by implementing laws for the protection of women and by combating and eliminating all forms of discrimination and violence against women, notably through the full implementation of the anti-rape and anti-honour killing laws with thorough investigation and prosecution of all violations of those laws. Moreover, Pakistan was asked to set the legal minimum age to marry at 18 years for males and females in all provinces and to ensure the enforcement of the law.

Some Member States asked Pakistan to implement the policies providing for the rights of persons with disabilities in view of all social activities and development plans. Lastly, Pakistan was recommended to ensure that all refugees within the territory of Pakistan enjoy their basic human rights and are protected from arbitrary arrests, humiliation and enforced expulsion.

After directly responding to some interventions, including those relating to non-discrimination on the basis of caste, color or creed; intolerance and hate speech; the right to health and education; and the rights of refugees, the delegation emphasized that Pakistan took its international human rights obligations very seriously and continued to strengthen cooperation and engagement with the High Commissioner for Human Rights and Special Procedures. It criticized India for diverting the focus of the UPR and invited India to adhere to their obligations to the UN, especially on Jammu and Kashmir in accordance with relevant Security Council resolutions. The Minister of Foreign Affairs thanked Member and Observer States for their substantive input, reiterated that protection and promotion of human right was anchored in Pakistan’s constitution and was regarded as obligation towards its people, and stressed the importance of taking into account the challenges the country faces in the context of the war against terror following 9/11. The delegation concluded that Pakistan would remain committed to human rights by consolidating the achievements and by enhancing the implementation framework.

Adoption of the Draft Report of the Working Group on the Universal Periodic Review

On Thursday, November 16, 2017, the Working Group on the Universal Periodic Review adopted the Report on Pakistan. The delegation of Pakistan will examine the 289 recommendations and will provide its responses no later than the thirty-seventh session of the Human Rights Council in March 2018.


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