LAHORE: Rights activists have questioned the government’s commitment to implement recommendations it accepted during the United Nations’ last Universal Periodic Review of human rights.
The activists were participating in a workshop organised by the International Commission of Jurists (ICJ) and the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP) on Saturday.
The objective of the event was to make the government realise its responsibility to meet the challenges for the next UPR scheduled for October, 2017.
Reema Omar, the ICJ legal adviser, said that Pakistan’s human rights engagement at the United Nations had significantly increased in recent years. “It ratified the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) and the Convention against Torture and Other Forms of Cruel, Inhuman and Degrading Treatment or Punishment (CAT) in 2010. It has provided compliance reports under both treaties. Pakistan also submitted detailed reports for the first and second cycles of the Human Right’s Council’s Universal Periodic Review in 2008 and 2012, and has undertaken to implement a range of recommendations to improve its human rights situation,” she said.
She said, however, the HRCP and the ICJ had noted that Pakistan’s performance at the UN had been disappointing. “Pakistan has often grossly misrepresented its human rights situation to evade scrutiny and accountability at the Human Rights Council. Pakistan’s implementation of its accepted UPR recommendations has also been dismal, with a majority of recommendations accepted during the 2008 and 2012 reviews still not implemented,” she said.
She said Pakistan went through its second UPR in October 2012 and adopted the UPR outcome in March 2013. “During the review, Pakistan received 167 recommendations, out of which it accepted 126, noted 34, and rejected seven recommendations,” she said.
Najamuddin from the HRCP said that at the mid-term phase of the review cycle, the HRCP had prepared an assessment of the implementation of recommendations that Pakistan accepted related to five thematic areas: women’s human rights; rights of the child; freedom of thought, conscience and religion; rights defenders and freedom of expression; and enforced and involuntary disappearances. “According to this assessment, the government’s performance in fulfilling its commitments during the 2012-2013 UPR at the midcycle period was far from satisfactory. Out of 69 accepted recommendations, 45 were not implemented at all; 23 were partially implemented; and only one recommendation was implemented in full,” he said.
Chaudhry Muhammad Shafique, a National Commission for Human Rights Pakistan member, said that many government functionaries were ignorant about the UPR.
HRCP secretary general IA Rehman said that the UPR had been created by the UN General Assembly on March 15, 2006 through a resolution. “A Human Rights Council was also established. The UPR aims at identifying human rights violations wherever they occur, supporting states to rectify them, and improving the human rights situation in all countries,” he said.
Peter Jacob, the Centre for Social Justice director, urged the rights activists to give importance to lobbying and advocacy.