Friday, May 27, 2005

A Case of 'Unenlightened Immoderation'?

Amnesty International has come down heavily on Pakistan for its poor human rights record. The Report 2005, formally released on 25th May criticised the military for consolidating its political role through the National Security through an act of Parliament and blamed Musharraf’s regime for the following Human Rights violations:

Women and Religious Minorities at Risk

Women and religious minorities, including Shi'a Muslims, Ahmadis, and Christians, are routinely subject to discrimination.
The government has permitted discriminatory laws to remain on the books, failed to enforce laws prohibiting discrimination, allowed individuals to be arbitrarily detained, and failed to ensure that those responsible for abuses are held to account.
In addition, Christians, Shi'a Muslims and Ahmadis, who have been the subject of targeted killings by Islamist groups, have been afforded little protection by the government.

Domestic violence, including physical abuse, rape, acid throwing, burning and "honor" killing, is widespread.
Forced marriage of young girls continues to be reported despite a legal minimum age of 16. Although slavery is illegal in Pakistan, girls and women continue to be traded to settle debts or conflicts.
Physical abuse of women in custody is rife.

Tribal Justice System
The government has allowed tribal councils, or jirgas, to abuse a wide range of human rights.
In rural Pakistan, jirgas are convened to resolve disputes over land, water, breaches of "honor," murder and blood feuds. Jirgas often resolve feuds by ordering an offender to hand over girls and women to the aggrieved party. In cases where a woman is believed to have "dishonored" her family by having a male friend, marrying a man of her choice, or seeking a divorce, jirgas have decided that those involved be killed or otherwise punished. The state does not generally take action when jirga decisions lead to murder, rape or other abuses.

Abuse of Blasphemy Laws
Pakistan's blasphemy laws, while purporting to protect Islam and the religious sensitivities of the Muslim majority are vaguely formulated and arbitrarily enforced by the police and the judiciary.
The laws have frequently been abused to imprison people on grounds of religious enmity and have also provided a mechanism through which to have people imprisoned when the real motives are business rivalry, land disputes, or politics.

Children who come into contact with the criminal justice system are routinely denied basic rights to which they are entitled under Pakistani law. Thousands of children have been denied access to bail and remain in prison for months - sometimes years - while awaiting trial under conditions in which they are vulnerable to abuse by police, prison staff or adult prisoners.
Children are routinely transported while chained to each other, adult prisoners, or guards. They are frequently held in lockups with adults.
Some children have been sentenced to death.

Post 9-11 Detention and Transfer of Custody
In the context of Pakistan's cooperation with the U.S.-led war on "terrorism," persons detained under suspicion of being al-Qa'ida or Taleban members have been denied rights guaranteed by the Pakistan constitution, including the rights to access to a lawyer, to meet with family members and to be seen by a medical doctor.
Many have been turned over to the U.S.-led coalition in violation of their rights under Pakistan's extradition law.
Some foreigners present in Pakistan, including Uighurs from China's Xinjiang Uighur Autonomous Region and people from Middle Eastern countries, have been handed over to their home countries without regard to the human rights violations they may face in those countries.

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