Geneva, 18 April 2017 – Ahead of today’s review by the United Nations torture watchdog today, a new civil-society report denounces that Pakistan must do much more to ensure that children, women and prisoners are free from torture.
As the State’s own report failed to do so, this so-called alternative report by the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan, the Society for the Protection of the Rights of the Child (SPARC) and the World Organisation Against Torture (OMCT) draws attention to several of Pakistan’s glaring violations of the Convention Against Torture ahead of the first review of Pakistan by the Committee Against Torture’s experts during its 60th session.
Pakistan, which ratified the Convention in 2010 and submitted its own report last year, more than four years behind schedule, failed to take the necessary steps to prevent torture, punish torturers and protect victims. Quite the contrary, Pakistan has lifted the moratorium on the death penalty and executed hundreds including detainees who were tortured for confessions.
In addition, most of Pakistan’s criminal law, inherited from the British rule, is outdated and doesn’t specifically define and criminalize all forms of torture. Several anti-torture draft bills are pending in Parliament for several years already but have not received the necessary support from the government or the majority of parliament. In addition, corporal punishment and other forms of violence against children – whether in educational institutions, at work, or at home – are not absolutely prohibited in the country.
Those responsible for violence against women in Pakistan – especially crimes of ‘honour’ – are still able to walk free. For instance, according to the Punjab Commission on the Status of Women, there were 6505 violence against women cases registered in Punjab in 2015 whereas in only 81 cases a person was convicted. Finally, little has been done to protect the rights of prisoners.
“Pakistan has made little progress and has still a long way to go to bring itself in line with international standards,” said Hina Jilani, OMCT’s newly elected President and a prominent Pakistani human rights proponent. “We count on the CAT to shed light on the many issues that still keep it from becoming safe for our children, women and prisoners.”
Prisoners at risk
As in most places, prisoners are most at risk in Pakistan. Yet, the overcrowding of prisons, the ongoing use of fetters and solitary confinement, and the limited access to medical treatment make their situation particularly worthy of attention. This is all the more true in the case of suspected terrorists. A new law has been introduced in 2011 to fight terrorism, retroactively allowing Pakistan’s military to detain suspects incommunicado. In addition, in 2015, Pakistan has created military courts that have sentenced 274 people between 2015 and 2016 including people who have not committed any terrorism related crimes.
NGOs at the CAT
NGOs provide direct country-specific information to the members of the Committee Against Torture. They share this data through private NGO briefings with the CAT that take place prior to the examination of the State party's report by the Committee.
As coordinator of civil-society presence at the CAT, OMCT:
- communicates ahead of time with national NGOs warning them that their countries will be reviewed in an upcoming session,
- builds the reporting capacity of NGOs on the Convention Against Torture through legal trainings in their home countries;
- provides administrative, logistical and financial support to NGOs to enable their programmed attendance of CAT sessions and private briefings;
- provides technical, information-gathering and editorial support to effective country reporting;
- moderates the NGO private briefing sessions reserved for NGOs to jointly bring their concerns to the Committee;
- recommends visibility opportunities for advocacy messaging during CAT sessions;
OMCT brings together an international network of over 200 NGOs fighting torture and protecting human rights all over the world. Among the activities organized from their headquarters in Geneva, Brussels and Tunis, OMCT provides medical, financial and legal assistance to torture victims as well as technical, financial and strategic assistance to anti-torture NGOs in its capacity as civil society coordinator before the UN Committee Against Torture. The organization also defends human rights and works towards the enforcement of the prohibition of torture.
More information on our website: www.omct.org
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OMCT Media contact: Lori Brumat email@example.com
For more information on the Pakistan review, please contact: Nicole Bürli (OMCT, Geneva) firstname.lastname@example.org +41 22 809 49 26