South Asians for Human Rights (SAHR), a network of human rights defenders based in seven countries in South Asia, strongly condemns the arrest and detention of Mr. Saeed Baloch, General Secretary of the Pakistan Fisher folk Forum by the Rangers –a paramilitary force controlled by the Pakistani Army. The arrest took place on 16 January 2016. SAHR also strongly advocates his immediate release.
Mr. Baloch, a well-known human rights activist has been associated with the Pakistan Fisher folk Forum (PFF), committed to protect the socio-economic and political rights of the indigenous fisher folk communities in the country, since its inception. He is also one of the senior members of the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan.
SAHR perceives that the arrest may be intended to restrain the activities for the promotion and protection of human rights and the efforts for the prevention of harm to human rights defenders. It is a matter of serious concern that this action of the Government of Pakistan strengthens the belief of the human rights community world-wide that counter terrorism legislation is being used by many states to repress human rights activity and intimidate human rights defenders.
SAHR urges the national human rights institutions and the relevant parliamentary and judicial bodies in Pakistan to take immediate action for the release of Mr. Saeed Baloch and to ensure his safety while in custody. SAHR urges that the condition of his detention be made public immediately. Reminding the Government of Pakistan of all its responsibilities under national law and of its obligations under international law, SAHR calls upon the Government to give lawyers and human rights bodies full access to Mr. Baloch in order that his physical and psychological integrity is safeguarded. SAHR expects the civil society in general and the human rights community in Pakistan in particular to monitor the situation of Mr. Baloch continuously and to make all appropriate interventions to secure his release and his safety while in custody.
On behalf of the members of South Asians for Human Rights.