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Universal Periodic Review – MEDIA BRIEF

Tuesday, 29 October 2012 (morning)

(Disclaimer: The following brief is intended for use of the information media and is not an official record. The note provides a brief factual summary of the UPR Working Group meeting with the State under review and does not cover all points addressed. An official summary of the meeting can be found in the Working Group report.)

State under review

Pakistan
Represented by a 17-member delegation headed by Ms. Hina Rabbani Khar, Minister for Foreign Affairs

Documents

To access national report, compilation of UN information, and summary of stakeholders’ information, visit the Pakistan page on the UPR website

Troika *

Chile, China, Congo

Opening statement by State under review

Few points raised in the  opening statement of State under review:
(See full statement on the Pakistan page of the UPR extranet)

  • Pakistan had taken several steps to restore the democratic nature of State institutions, including the release of political prisoners and the lifting of curbs against the media, inter alia;
  • The period between 2008 and 2012 had proved very challenging for Pakistan given, among other things, terrorism and natural calamities; despite these challenges, Pakistan remained steadfast in its commitment to promote and protect human rights;
  • A number of bills were passed by the Parliament to strengthen human rights in the country including legislation to create a National Commission for Human Rights in May 2012 in compliance with the Paris Principles, and the promulgation of more than half a dozen laws for the promotion and protection of  women’s rights and pertaining to violence against women;
  • Pakistan ratified the ICCPR and the CAT in June 2010 and the Convention on the rights of persons with disabilities and the OP of CRC on the sale of children in August 2011;
  • The High Commissioner for Human Rights visited the country in June 2012 which provided an opportunity for her to observe first-hand the wide-ranging measures taken by Pakistan in the promotion and protection of human rights; 
  • Pakistan has made extraordinary efforts and sacrifices to eradicate the scourge of terrorism and to build a peaceful and stable region; one clear indicator was the reaction the world witnessed to the heinous attack on young Malala Yousufazai;
  • In terms of minorities, seats have been reserved for minorities in the National Assembly, the Senate and the Provincial Assemblies;
  • In 2008, all curbs against the media were lifted and the Right to Information was no guaranteed by the Constitution as a fundamental rights;
  • Pakistan was host to one of the world’s largest refugee populations with more than three million for more than 30 years; the massive floods and rains of 2010 and 2011 caused dislocation of 2.6 people; the authorities have fully integrated human rights and gender sensitive training in their activities;
  • Special attention has been given by the Government to the political, social and economic emancipation of women and protection of the rights of other vulnerable groups including children and minorities; numerous laws have been passed in that regard;
  • In response to questions posed by States, the delegation noted Pakistan has been undertaking numerous measures to promote inter-faith harmony; and, in terms of blasphemy, between 2007 and 2010, 253 individuals were convicted under the Blasphemy Law of which 244 were Muslim, which dispelled the notion that the law was designed to target non-Muslims; 
  • Responding to other questions, the head of delegation mentioned that there a national commission on enforced disappearances, legislation to protect women, children and minorities, including legislation on combatting attacks against women, and a constitutional right allowing for free, universal and primary education.  

Participants

In total 85 States participated in the dialogue:  28 HRC members and  57 observers  (Statements available on the Pakistan page of the UPR extranet)

Positive achievements

Positive achievements noted by delegations included, among others:

  • Laws adopted and steps taken to protect women and girls from violence and discrimination;
  • The ratification of a number of international instruments;
  • Efforts to uphold human rights given challenges posed by natural disasters and vast number of refugees in the country;
  • The creation of an independent National Human Rights Commission in May 2012 in compliance with the Paris Principles;
  • The recent constitutional reform undertaken;
  • The application of a de facto moratorium on the death penalty.

Issues and Questions

Issues and questions raised by the Working Group included, among others:

  • Efforts to eliminate all forms of discrimination and violence against women;
  • Steps to amend the law on blasphemy and to uphold the rights of religious minorities;
  • Measures to promote and protect the rights of human rights defenders;
  • The provision of free universal primary education and reducing illiteracy rates;  
  • The activities of the National Commission for Human Rights;
  • Efforts to harmonize international instruments with domestic legislation.

Recommendations

States participating in the dialogue posed a series of recommendations to Pakistan. These pertained to the following issues, among others

  • Taking additional measures to combat all forms violence and discrimination against women and enacting provincial legislation on domestic violence;
  • Adopting measures to eliminate early and forced marriages and removing reservations made to the ICCPR pertaining to women’s rights;
  • Taking additional measures to promote and protect the rights of human rights defenders including setting up a national policy and bringing perpetrators of related attacks to justice and bringing to justice perpetrators of attacks on journalists;
  • Enhancing efforts to promote and protect the human rights of religious minorities and investigating attacks and violence against religious minorities and holding accountable those responsible for such acts;
  • Amending the law on blasphemy ensuring it was in line with international law and stepping up efforts to guarantee the freedom of religion and supporting programmes aimed at strengthening religious freedom and tolerance;
  • Formally abolishing the death penalty;
  • Investigating allegations of extra-judicial killings in Baluchistan and halting operations aimed at silencing dissent in Baluchistan;
  • Ensuring the provision of free primary education to all children and taking additional measures to reduce illiteracy; 
  • Strengthening the national commission on inquiry on forced disappearances providing it with greater authority and resources to conduct investigations;
  • Providing adequate resources to the National Human Rights Commission;
  • Extending an open invitation to Special Procedures mandate holders;
  • Ratification of human rights instruments:  the Convention on enforced or involuntary disappearances, the OPCAT, the Rome Statute of the ICC, the OP to CEDAW, the OP to the Convention on the rights of persons with disabilities, the first OP to the CRC, the 1951 Convention on Refugees and its OP, and the Convention on Statelessness, the Convention on the rights of migrant workers, and ILO Convention 189. 

Adoption of report of Working Group

The adoption of the report of the UPR Working Group on Pakistan is scheduled to take place on Friday, 2 November

  • The troikas are a group of three States selected through a drawing of lots who serve as rapporteurs and who are charged with preparing the report of the Working Group on the country review with the involvement of the State under review and assistance from the OHCHR. 

Media contact: Rolando Gómez, Public Information Officer, OHCHR, + 41(0)22 917 9711, rgomez@ohchr.org

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