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HRCP Alarmed At Rapidly Closing Space For Civil Society Organisations

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The Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP) raised serious concerns over the ‘the rapidly closing space for civil society organisations in Pakistan’. HRCP also said that the body has no objection over attempts to improve schemes ushered in by the 18th Amendment, but any attempt to curtail the rights and interests of the federating units will undermine the integrity of the state.

HRCP issued the following statement on the conclusion of its 33rd Annual General Meeting. The body said that Pakistan’s civil society organisations have played a crucial role in delivering services that the state could not. The body said that any restrictions placed on the freedom of speech and association are unacceptable.

Media Under Pressure

HRCP said media has come under ‘intense’ pressure and journalists face harassment, both online and otherwise, while doing their jobs. “This has stifled key voices of dissent, with serious implications for Pakistan’s democratic development.”

‘Dismayed At Attempts To Resurrect Military Courts’

HRCP said the they were dismayed at attempts to resurrect military courts. This institution must not be revived and all issues associated with these courts remain cause for concern.

‘Forced Conversions Are A Great Concern’

The commission said that forced conversions being reported as of late, especially in Sindh, are alarming. HRCP said that this appears as a ‘systematic’ trend and that it must be seen in a broader context of the coercion of vulnerable girls and young women from communities that are already marginalised by their faith, class and socioeconomic status.

Put An End To Enforced Disappearances

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HRCP also calls on the state to sign and ratify the International Convention for the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearance. Cases of enforced disappearance must not be allowed to fade away once a victim has returned home. “The impunity with which people continue to be forcibly disappeared is cause for serious concern and must be addressed if this problem is to be curbed.”

Child Abuse Cannot Be Allowed To Become A Norm

HRCP also expressed concerns over growing reports of child abuse across the country, especially in Balochistan’s mining sector. The commission said that the government should prioritise protection of children because they are among the most vulnerable segments of the society.

Implementation of Transgender Persons Protection of Rights Act 2018

HRCP welcomed the passage of the Transgender Persons (Protection of Rights) Act 2018, but urged the government to ensure its implementation. “The rights and identity of the transgender community must be protected if this vulnerable group is to play its due role in civic society.”

Bahawalpur Murder And Concerns Over Rise In Extremism

HRCP expressed great concern over the rise in extremism. The recent case in which a university professor in Bahawalpur was murdered by a student simply for planning a mixed-gender gathering for his students, is a ‘dangerous sign’, and the student was alleged to have links to the far-right Tehreek-e-Labbaik Pakistan.

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