The Human Rights Commission of Pakistan on Monday said that the government had failed to protect its minority members against attacks and discrimination. It said while Pakistan had been elected to the United Nations Human Rights Council, the government had failed to control rising incidents of enforced disappearances and extrajudicial killings, unabated violence against women and child labour.
The commission issued a report on Monday dedicated to one of the commission’s founders, Asma Jahangir, who died in February 2016 in Lahore. She was an outspoken critic of the military’s interference in civilian rule and a defender of the rule of law.
The report said the blasphemy law continued to be misused in the country and conservative groups continued to resist laws aimed at curbing violence against women. It further said that journalists and bloggers still face threats and attacks.
“Deaths linked to terrorism may have decreased, but the ‘soft targets’ of religious minorities and law enforcement agencies continue to bear the brunt of violence,” the commission said. “In an environment where ‘innocent until proven guilty’ carries no weight, an accusation of blasphemy leads to a lynching by a zealous mob...Murder, rape, acid crimes, kidnappings, domestic violence and so-called honour killings, persist and, in the main, go unreported.”
The commission said there were 3,33,103 cases pending in the country’s courts. While offenders are not brought to justice, the jails are overcrowded, it added.
“Pakistan’s bid to stand tall among the international defenders of human rights may be well-intentioned, but simply enacting legislation will not suffice,” the report said. “The national human rights institutions need adequate authority, independence and resources to carry out their mandates effectively. Without that, the only recourse left to the unrepresented and the disadvantaged is through the activists and human rights defenders who risk their own freedom to speak out on their behalf.”