South Asians for Human Rights

Promoting Democracy, Upholding Human Rights

Karachi: A comprehensive report titled ‘State of the Human Rights in 2009’ by the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP) sheds light on the deplorable situation of human affairs in the country.

Marred by suicide bombings, target killings and rampant violence, 2009 was another year in which a common man remained deprived of his fundamental rights. While anarchy and bloodshed reigned the year, the state of important sectors such as education and health deteriorated further.

But all was not bleak in 2009. In the same year, the country saw the restoration of the judiciary, striking down of the National Reconciliation Order (NRO) and the passing of a law promising better protection against sexual harassment to women.

The report focuses on issues pertaining to citizens and discusses 18 such topics in detail.

HRCP has not only pinpointed the problems existing in various sectors but have also stated concrete recommendations at the end of each chapter. HRCP has also discussed its own role and activities of the previous year and at the end presented a list of Pakistani prisoners in foreign countries.

Below are some excerpts from the book on different topics, highlighting state of human rights as well as the prominent incidents and issues of the year 2009.

Laws and Law-making: The report states that the parliament did not perform well in terms of legislation and passed only four acts. On the other had, around 61 federal ordinances were issued.

The domestic violence bill lapsed unable to be approved by the Upper house. To this day, it has been not passed Administration of Justice:

The deposed Chief Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry and other judges were restored through an executive order.

On December 16, the Supreme Court struck down the national reconciliation ordinance (NRO).

At the end of 2009, 1.52 million cases were pending in the superior and lower courts of the country.

Law and order: In 2009, about 3,021 people were killed and some 7,334 were injured in 2,586 incidents of terrorism. Out of these, 1,300 were killed in 108 suicide bombings.

The highest number of kidnappings took place in the province of NWFP (now Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa) 592, followed by 241 in Balochistan, 224 in Punjab and 163 in Sindh.

More than 1,600 people committed suicide.

In Karachi alone, 747 people were killed, out of which 291 succumbed to target killings.

Jails, prisoners and ‘disappearances’: Majority of enforced disappearances cases were from Balochistan. At the end of the year, around 133 persons on HRCP’s list submitted to the Supreme Court are still missing.

Prisons in the country remain overcrowded and congested. In Camp Jail Lahore, 4,651 prisoners were detained in a facility with a capacity for only 1,050.

As many as 54 prisoners were killed in prisons during the year 2009.

Freedom of thought, conscience and religion: Increase in organized attacks including Taiser Town and Gojra on religious minorities. More than 41 complaints of blasphemy were reported.

At least five members of the Ahmadi sect were murdered in target killings raising the number to 100 since the introduction of anti-Ahmadiyya laws in 1984.

Nearly 80 percent of the minorities live below the poverty line and are ignored in various government support programs.

Freedom of expression: Seven journalists lost their lives in the line of duty; four others were killed in crime related incidents.

A campaign by Jang group for expeditious implementation of the Supreme Court verdict in the NRO cases and on corruption charges against the President angered the government, resulting in withholding government advertisements from the group.

Women and children: Around 1,404 women were murdered, including 647 in the name of ‘honour’. Around 928 women were raped and some 563 committed suicide.

Cases of domestic violence shot from 137 in 2008 to 205

Government failed to enforce a new law to deal with domestic violence NA passed amendments in PPC and CrPC to define sexual harassment and propose enhanced punishments for offenders. The bill was passed by Senate in 2010.

Almost 20.30 million of as 70 million aged less than 18 years did not go to school.

Other alarming figures including: 20,000 children die of diarrhea every year, around 52 percent of children studying in seminaries experience sexual harassment, 58 percent of the girls in rural areas are married before the age of 20. Around 3.5 million children below 15 years are child laborers. 39 percent of children are malnourished. 968 children, 285 boys and 683 girls were sexually abused. Number of street children rose to 1.5 million. There were around 1,800 minor prisoners in 2009.

Labor: Estimated labor force in the country was 51.78 million.

Around 285,000 people lost their jobs in banking sector, 61,200 in computer industry, 115,000 in construction, and 120,200 in electronic and 69,000 in telecommunication.

Education: Pakistan was ranked 117 out of 134 countries in terms of quality of primary education in world economic forum’s global competitiveness index for 2009.

An estimated 35 to 40 percent of children of school going were out in streets. Terrorist destroyed more than 187 schools and damaged 318 forcing 50,000 stay at home.

Health: There is only one doctor for 1,212 persons, one dentist for 18,010 persons and one hospital bed for 1,575 persons.

There were 85,000 individuals infected with HIV-AIDS in Pakistan, two percent under the age of 14.

85,812 deaths from cancers were reported. Environment: 38 percent of Pakistan’s irrigated land was waterlogged. More than 60 percent of the country’s population was without access to safe water drinking water.

Some 23,000 people died in the country due to air-pollution. More than 400 million gallons of untreated industrial waste were being discharged into the Arabian Sea daily out of which 80 million gallons were contributed by Karachi.

Refugees: There were 1.25 million IDPs. Only 50,000 afghan refugees were repatriated to Afghanistan in 2009. There were nearly 1.7 million registered Afghan refugees in the 2009.

Source: The News – 02.05.2010

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