February 16, 2023

Diminishing Democracy | Spotlighting human rights and rule of law concerns in Pakistan

BHRC hosted a virtual panel event on Wednesday 15 February 2023 bringing leading lawyers and civil society representatives to spotlight serious concerns about human rights violations and the rule of law in Pakistan. This panel event is the third in BHRC’s ‘Diminishing Democracy’ series following earlier events on rule of law in India held virtually in September 2021 and Sri Lanka held in October 2022. In this session, which was chaired by BHRC Executive Committee Member Zimran Samuel MBE, speakers including Farooq Aftab (Human Rights Activist, Lawyer, News Commentator, Writer & Public Speaker, Secretariat of the International Human Rights Committee, UK), Jalila Haider (Human Rights Attorney & Activist); and Saif Ul Mulook (Human Rights Attorney & Activist, Pakistan), discussed:

– The importance of respecting the rule of law and the obligations of Pakistan under international law to respect fundamental rights (not only to respect and protect the rights to freedom of assembly, religion and expression but also to actively promote and facilitate their exercise); – The urgent need for strengthened safeguards / protection for and an end to the persecution of Pakistani human rights defenders, including lawyers, judges, journalists, protestors, and civil society practitioners; – International calls for an end to enforced disappearances, extrajudicial killings, and torture in Pakistan (noting that Pakistan has yet to enact any legislation criminalising torture despite the obligation to do so under the UN Convention against Torture); – The urgent need to strengthen protections and remedy for victims of sexual and gender-based violence; and – The role that corruption plays in rights-abusing political and economic frameworks in Pakistan; international standards on anti-corruption and how these should be urgently implemented with appropriate and independent mechanisms of accountability designed to strengthen rights protections overall.