Urgent Interventions

Ongoing harassment against Ms. Gulalai Ismail and her relatives

PAK 002 / 0719 / OBS 062

Judicial harassment /



July 16, 2019

The Observatory for the Protection ofHuman Rights Defenders, a partnership of the World Organisation Against Torture(OMCT) and FIDH, requests your urgent intervention in the following situationin Pakistan.

Brief descriptionof the information:

The Observatory has been informed by reliable sources about the ongoingjudicial harassment against Ms. Gulalai Ismail and about threatsand harassment against her relatives. Ms. Ismail, an ethnic Pashtun and womanrights defender, is the founder of the YouthPeace network and co-founder and Chairperson of the Aware Girls NGO, anorganisation aiming at strengthening the leadership of young people, especiallywomen and girls, enabling them to act as agents of change for women empowermentand peace building. Ms. Ismail has led a campaign against extrajudicial killings inPakistan and was awarded the 2017 Anna Politkovskaya Award by 'theorganization Reach all Women in War (RAW).

Accordingto the information received, Ms. Gulalai Ismail was forced into hiding afterfacing charges of “defamation” (Section 500 of the Penal Code), “sedition”(Section 124-A of the Penal Code), “promoting enmity between different groups”(Section 153-A of the Penal Code) and other charges under Section 6/7 ofPakistan’s Anti-Terrorism Act. The charges stemmed from a speech she gave at arally in Islamabad, in which she called for justice in the case of a10-year-old girl who was raped and murdered in May 2019 and denounced theauthorities’ inaction to bring the perpetrator(s) to justice[1].

Moreover,Ms. Ismail’s relatives have faced repeated acts of harassment and intimidationby security forces since two First Information Reports (FIRs) were filedagainst her by the police in Islamabad on May 22 and 23, 2019. For instance, onMay 24 at dawn, the police raided her family home in Islamabad and threatenedher family members. The family’s residence was again raided on May 27 and June4. Again, on July 4, 2019, a large group of men in civilian clothes raided Ms.Ismail’s house in Islamabad three times and threatened to harm Ms. Ismail’syounger sister if the former did not cease her work as an activist. Securityforces also took away the family’s driver, interrogated him, and subjected himto physical acts of ill-treatment. According to the information received,toxins were allegedly injected into his body, he was punched in thehead, and he was beaten with a pistol. Furthermore, he was threatened with hischildren being killed. The driver was released eight hours later.

Moreover,on July 12, 2019, a FIR was lodged against Ms. Ismail and her parents by theCounter-Terrorism Department in Peshawar, accusing them of having received“financial support from terrorist organizations”.

The Observatory condemns the ongoing harassmentagainst Ms. Gulalai Ismail and her relatives, and calls upon the Pakistani authorities to put animmediate end to these acts of harassment, which seem to be aimed to punish Ms.Ismail for her human rights work.

TheObservatory recalls that this is not the first time that Ms. Ismail facesjudicial harassment because of her human rights activities. Since October 2018,she has been placed on Pakistan’s Exit Control Listand prevented from leaving the country. Moreover, on February 5, 2019, Ms.Ismail and other Pashtun Tahaffuz Movement (PTM)[2] members were arrestedoutside the National Press Club in Islamabad while they were taking part in aprotest to denounce the killing of Mr. Ibrahim Arman Loni, a teacher and PTM core committee member in BaluchistanProvince. Ms. Ismail was first taken to G9 Women's Police Station in Islamabadbefore being moved to an unknown location, until her release on February 6,2019[3].

Actions requested:

Please write to the authorities in Pakistan, urging them to:

i. Guarantee, in all circumstances, the physical integrity andpsychological well-being of Ms. Gulalai Ismail, her relatives, and allhuman rights defenders in Pakistan;

ii. Put an end to all acts of harassment - including at the judiciallevel and restrictions on the freedom of movement - against Ms. GulalaiIsmail, her relatives and all human rights defenders in Pakistan, and ensurethat they are able to carry out their legitimate activities without anyhindrance and fear of reprisals in all circumstances;

iii. Carry out an immediate, thorough, impartial, and transparentinvestigation into the above-mentioned events, in order to identify all thoseresponsible, bring them before an independent tribunal, and sanction them asprovided by the law;

iv. Conform to the provisions of the UN Declaration on Human RightsDefenders, adopted by the General Assembly of the United Nations on December 9,1998, in particular with Articles 1 and 12.2;

v. Ensure in all circumstances respect for human rights and fundamentalfreedoms in accordance with international human rights standards andinternational instruments ratified by Pakistan.


· Mr. ArifAlvi, President of Pakistan; Fax: +92 51 920 8479; Email:

· Mr. Imran Khan, PrimeMinister of Pakistan, Minister in Charge for Interior and Narcotics Control;Fax: +92 51 922 04 04; Email:

· Mr.Shehryar Khan Afridi, Minister of State for Interior, Fax: +92 51 920 2624,

· Ambassador Farukh Amil,Permanent Representative to the United Nations in Geneva, Switzerland; Fax:022734 80 85; Email:

Please also write to thediplomatic mission or embassy of Pakistan located in your country.


Geneva-Paris, July 16, 2019

Kindly inform us of any action undertakenquoting the code of this appeal in your reply.

The Observatory for theProtection of Human Rights Defenders (the Observatory) was created in 1997 bythe World Organisation Against Torture (OMCT) and FIDH. The objective of thisprogramme is to prevent or remedy situations of repression against human rightsdefenders. OMCT and FIDH are both members of, the European Union Human Rights Defenders Mechanism implemented byinternational civil society.

[1] OnMay 15, 2019, 10-year old girl Farishta went missing near her home in Islamabad.Her parents reported her disappearance the same day, but it took four days forthe police to register a FIR on the disappearance, and a proper search was notlaunched. Her body was finally found in a forest on May 21, 2019, leading topublic outcry.

[2] PTMis an alliance that calls for the de-mining of the former tribal areas, greaterfreedom of movement in these areas, an end to extrajudicial killings, enforceddisappearances and arbitrary detentions, and for the accountability ofperpetrators of such acts within a truth and reconciliation framework.

[3] See Observatory Urgent Appeal PAK 001 / 0219 / OBS 015, published on February 14, 2019.

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