Human Rights Commission of Pakistan has launched its annual report ‘State of Human Rights in 2016’ in a local hotel in Islamabad today (May 10, 2017). The highlights of the report as provided by HRCP are given below for your information.
State of Human Rights in 2016
Laws and law-making
- The federal parliament made 51 laws in 2016, more than double the previous year’s output of 20 laws
- Ordinances promulgated by the president decreased from 12 in 2015 to six in 2016
- Provincial legislatures adopted 81 laws in 2016, a significantly low output compared to the 120 laws enacted in 2015
- With 30 laws enacted, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa had the highest legislative output, followed by Sindh, Punjab and Balochistan
Administration of justice
- About three million cases were pending in the country’s courts in 2016
- Incidents of violence against judges and lawyers increased sense of insecurity among law people
- 15 people, 10 Muslims and five non-Muslims, were booked for blasphemy. Two Muslims and as many Christians were sentenced to death for blasphemy. One person charged with blasphemy who had been languishing in jail for four years was acquitted by the Lahore High Court
- Two persons had been executed a year before the Supreme Court eventually pronounced them innocent in October. Also in October, a person exonerated by the Supreme Court about 19 years after he was accused of a murder had died two years ago
Law and order
- Deaths linked to terrorism in Pakistan dropped 45 percent in 2016 compared with 2015
- 48 percent, or 211, of the attacks in 2016 were directed toward the security forces and law enforcement agencies. ISIS claimed several bomb and gun attacks mostly in Balochistan and Sindh.
- In Gilgit-Baltistan, out of the 23 cases of murder registered in 2016, 13 were of honour killing. At least 187 women, 40 out of them in honour-related crimes, were murdered in the first 10 months of 2016 in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa. Punjab witnessed an increase in the cases of rape, gang rape and abduction. Bank robberies, theft and snatching of motorcycles and mobile phones witnessed a sudden rise in 2016 in Karachi.
- Three human rights defenders were killed. Punjab police said they killed 340 criminals in at least 291 ‘encounters’. Sindh police said 248 robbers and other criminals, 96 terrorists and 11 kidnappers were killed in encounters. Law enforcers claimed to have killed at least 229 suspected terrorists and kidnappers in different raids in Balochistan province, 315 in FATA, 40 in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and four in Gilgit- Baltistan
Jails, prisoners and enforced disappearances
- Pakistani prisons had 84,315 prisoners. Punjab jails held 49,603 prisoners against a capacity of 23,617, Sindh 20,308 against 12,245 and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa 11,200 against 7,547
- Of the 1,497 total female population in prisons, Punjab had 920 women, Sindh 249, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa 309, Balochistan 18 and Gilgit-Baltistan one woman in jails
- 426 people were sentenced to death in 2016 while 87 were executed in 2016
- Another 728 Pakistanis were added to the list of missing persons in 2016 – the highest in at least six years – taking the total to 1,219, according to the Inquiry Commission on Enforced Disappearances
Freedom of movement
- Freedom of movement continued to be stunted in 2016, mainly because of poor law and order, militancy and counterinsurgency measures, and natural disasters
- Travel for women, transgender people and certain religious minority communities remained dangerous
- Courts heard several cases involving restrictions on travel within the country and abroad. In one such case, the Supreme Court stressed that freedom of movement is a fundamental right guaranteed to every citizen, which could not be abridged or denied arbitrarily on the basis of likes or dislike
Freedom of thought, conscience and religion
- Out of four Ahmadis targeted for murder during 2016, three were doctors. The country saw several incidents of violence against Christians. The Hindu community complained of land grabbing, attacks, kidnaping, forced conversions, temple desecrations, rape, and murder
- Sindh Assembly approved the Sindh Hindu Marriage Act to enable Hindus, Sikhs, and Zoroastrians to register their marriages
- In more than 30 attacks during the year, militants targeted different Muslims sects — mainly Sunni, Shia, including Hazaras, and Bolira — and worship places and shrines killing about 110 people and injuring 162 others.
Freedom of expression
- Killing of six journalists and a blogger and the fallout of certain news reports escalated the environment of intimidation of the media and increased levels of self-censorship by the media
- Cyber law sought to restrict the boundaries of criticism aimed at officialdom and allowed the authorities to intercept communications by the citizens, including journalists, political activists and rights campaigners
- Civil society activists came under slanderous attacks online for their advocacy of peace
- The year 2016 saw a disturbing rise in assaults on media houses, TV channel and newspaper offices as well as press clubs by militant, religious and political groups
Freedom of assembly
- The government arbitrarily resorted to violence and implemented laws such as section 144 of the Pakistan Penal Code
- The government’s reliance on force bared its deficiencies in crowd management. Blocking of roads and thoroughfares affected the citizens’ fundamental right to public passage.
- There were incidents of violence by protesters, gridlocks blocking people’s freedom of movement and causing patients’ deaths due to delayed access to healthcare.
- The sexual harassment of women activists by men at political rallies highlighted not only a deplorable behaviour, but also the absence of effective security mechanisms at political gatherings.
Freedom of association
- Lingering concerns, such as denial of the right of association to home-based workers, students and unregistered labourers, remained unresolved
- Lawyers suffered heavy losses with the Balochistan Bar losing about 70 of its members in one deadly attack
- NGOs continued to suffer unnecessary interference by the state in the name of fighting terrorism
- It took almost three years from enacting new local government laws in 2013 in Punjab and Sindh to making the
- local governments operational in 2016
- The revision of electoral rolls exposed a serious nationwide gender gap of 12.52 percent i.e. 42.42 million women voters against 54.59 million male voters on the electoral register
- Electoral and FATA reforms were yet to go through parliamentary endorsement to become the legitimate legal instruments
- Despite several legislative developments to strengthen the women protection system, no significant decline was seen in the number of cases of violence against women
- The percentage of women in the labour force was 26% for women aged between 15-64 years, equivalent to almost 14 million women and no industry or sector employed more than 30% women
- According to Pakistan’s first Women’s Economic Empowerment Index, Punjab performed best (0.52) followed by Sindh (0.38), KP (0.35) and Balochistan (0.26). The national figure stood at 0.39 against a score of one.
- Education levels of females remained disproportionately low compared to males. Life expectancy for females increased by almost 4 years to 67.3 from 2005 to 2015, but preventable diseases caused most of the deaths
- HRCP media monitoring showed that there were more than 2500 victims of violence against women in 2016. The nature of violence included sexual, domestic, burning and kidnappings
- 44 percent of children had stunted growth
- 9% (24 million) of the world’s 263 million out-of-school children, adolescents and youth, are in Pakistan
- Sexual assault against minors, child pornography and trafficking were criminalized. The total number of sexual abuse cases including abduction, missing children and child marriage in 2016, stood at 4139 bringing the number of abused children to 11 per day and showing an increase of 10% from 2015.
- Many children continued to be exploited through forced labour and sex trafficking
- Pakistan’s more than 61 million labour force was faced with rapid transformation in economic dynamics and weak institutions for the protection of labour rights
- While some laws related to workers’ health and safety and prevention child labour were made (in Punjab), a failure to upgrade labour rights frameworks, non-implementation of laws, continued abeyance of a tripartite mechanism, and denial of right to unionization reinforced the erosion of labour rights
- Workers waged struggle for rights and had to engage a state that had almost abdicated its responsibility to protect labour
- There, were numerous complaints of the. minimum wage of Rs 14,000 a month being denied to workers
- The number of out-of-school children decreased from 25 million to 24 million and the adult literacy rate went down from 58% to 56.4%.
- Around 48% of schools in the country do not have toilets, boundary walls, electricity and drinking water
- The federal and two provincial governments – Punjab and Balochistan – cut their budgetary allocations for the sector, despite showy claims of giving education a priority
- The provinces either failed to legislate on the right to free and compulsory education for children or implement the legislation in letter and spirit
- There was no change in the conditions for the physically challenged students in the country in 2016 compared with 2015
- Pakistan spent a mere 0.9 per cent of the GDP on health and had a ratio of one doctor per 1038 person, one hospital bed for ‘1613 person and one dentist for 11513 persons, which was quite inadequate.
- Pakistan ranked towards the bottom in infant and neonatal mortality, according to Unicef
- Around 50 million people in the country had various psychological problems but, according to WHO, the country had only 320 psychiatrists and only five psychiatric hospitals
- Pakistan continued to be affected by endemic transmission of wild poliovirus type 1 (WPV1) with 20 cases reported in 2016
- Fake housing societies continued to operate despite awareness campaigns and crackdowns
- Slum eviction drives only exposed the housing crisis Pakistan faced
- Housing finance slightly improved than the previous year
- Many unfortunate incidents marred the housing scene in the country
- German watch’s Global Climate Risk Index 2017 ranked Pakistan 7th among countries most vulnerable to climate change
- Pakistan is losing 9% of its GDP annually due to damages
- by environmental degradation
- 80% of Pakistanis were consuming water that was contaminated or unsafe
- Pakistan was ranked among ’10 countries where most urban residents lacked access to proper sanitation
- A 2016 World Health Organization report ranked Peshawar and Rawalpindi 2nd and 4th, respectively, in the list of cities with the most air pollution
- 381,275 registered Afghans opted for repatriation in 2016. The highest number (308,171) went back from Khyber
- 241,745 undocumented Afghans also went back home with support from IOM.
- Registered female-headed household accounted for 10% of the families going back to Afghanistan.
- Deadline for repatriation of registered refugees was extended twice in 2016.
- At least 700,000 displaced individuals (114,511 displaced families) went back to their native areas during the year under review. 76,507 families remained in situations of displacement.
- Around 3,000 people displaced in Gilgit-Baltistan since 2010 remained in around half a dozen IDP camps.
- There was no progress to end the plight of around a quarter of a million Pakistanis stuck in Bangladesh.