Islamabad: Former Senator Farhatullah Babar on Friday called for placing before parliament the report last year of the third Universal Periodic Review (UPR) containing the recommendations made the UN and the promises made by Pakistan to improve its human rights record.
The Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) leader was speaking at a discussion on human rights defenders in the HRCP office in Islamabad.
The human rights situation in the country has been progressively deteriorating because of the war on terror and the so called national security considerations.
The conflict zones of tribal areas and Balochistan had become inaccessible, the internment centres had turned into Guantanamo bay like prisons and there was no legislation to protect the rights of refugees. Besides, he said enforced disappearances continued with impunity despite admission recently before Senate panel by the Chairman of Commission on Disappearances that 153 security personnel were found involved in it.
A great threat to human rights is the diminishing security of human rights defenders, under attack from both state and non state actors.
The nature of attacks varies. threat to life, limb, liberty, restrictions on movement, character assassination, surveillance, censorship etc.
He said that 2018 marked the 20th anniversary of adoption by UNGA of UN Declaration on Human Rights Defenders, a move supported by Pakistan.
However in Nov 2015 Pakistan voted against a UNGA Resolution recognizing role of human rights defenders and seeking protection for them.
He also called for subjecting the internment centres to the normal Jail rules and demilitarization of the erstwhile tribal areas as it had been merged with the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province.
Farhatullah Babar proposed legislation to recognize the role of human rights defenders and ensure their protection against excesses. He said a Bill for the protection and security of journalists had been finalized by the Senate Committee and called for its early adoption..
State response to calls for enforcing human rights has been to use force, intimidation and coercion as witnessed in the case of organizations like PTM which are demonized and intimidated, he said.