Shireen Mazari reaffirms commitment to protect citizens from torture, uphold Human Rights

On the International Day in Support of Victims of Torture, Federal Minister of Human Rights Shireen Mazari has reaffirmed the commitment of the state to protect citizens from torture and uphold their fundamental Human Rights.

In a statement issued on 25th of June 2020 the Federal Minister said, “We are actively working towards strengthening legislation to effectively criminalize the practice – which violates our Constitution as well as our international commitments. We also recognize the pervasive issue of the culture of police abuse and are cognizant of the need for comprehensive police reforms to put an end to torture and extrajudicial killings. In this regard, the Ministry of Human Rights (MoHR) has initiated several sensitization and awareness sessions with the police on a range of human rights related issues including respecting the rights of women, children and transgender persons.”

The International Day in Support of Victims of Torture on 26 June marks the proclamation of the UN Convention Against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (UNCAT) – a key international instrument towards eliminating the practice of torture around the world.

Pakistan has ratified the United Nations Convention Against Torture and other Cruel, Inhuman and Degrading Treatment or Punishment (UNCAT) and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) - both of which prohibit torture and other acts of cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment.

Shireen Mazari further stated that the MoHR is dedicated to establishing human rights at the center of criminal justice system.

“Last year, we worked on reforming and streamlining the mercy petition process for prisoners on death row. Critically, in January 2019, our Ministry also submitted a draft bill to the Ministry of Law and Justice to criminalize enforced disappearances through an amendment in the Pakistan Penal Code. While the process of legislative and cultural reform is gradual, we are taking concrete steps towards ending the culture of impunity for these crimes.”

Minister Shireen Mazari has also raised the issue of Kashmiris in Indian Occupied Jammu & Kashmir by Indian Occupation forces, particularly with regards to the cruel treatment of women and the youth in custody.

“The Kashmiri population has been drowning under a wave of systematic torture and oppression, which has been aggravated since Hindutva Supremacist Modi government enforced a lockdown in IOJK and illegally annexed the disputed IOJK territory against all international law and especially the Fourth Geneva Convention which regards such an action as a war crime. The systematic or widespread practice of torture constitutes a crime against humanity and cannot be justified under any circumstances, according to all relevant instruments.”

On the occasion, Federal Secretary for Human Rights, Rabiya Javeri Agha also reaffirmed the government’s commitment to protecting the rights of individuals, especially marginalized groups that are particularly vulnerable to abuse.

“We recognize the gaps in terms of our national legislation and criminal code and are working towards overcoming them.The Ministry of Human Rights is working towards strengthening international reporting through the establishment of a National Mechanism for Reporting and Follow up NMRF. We are also mid-way in the setting up of a Human Rights Information Management System (HRIMS). Through nationwide consultations, human rights indicators have been developed and made a part of our national data collection system. These steps will enable the government and civil society to effectively and empirically track human rights situation in our country”.


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