Geneva [Switzerland]: The United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights Volker Turk said that the increase in violence and arrests in Pakistan is a matter of “grave concern”.
“Arrests made under arbitrary laws are equivalent to arbitrary detention. Civilian cases in military courts are a violation of international human rights laws and that immediate, transparent, and impartial investigation of the events of May 9 should be ensured,” Volker Turk said while speaking at a news conference in Geneva. The United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights has said that the rule of law in Pakistan is under serious threat.
He further said that the only way to a “safe and prosperous Pakistan lies in the protection of human rights, the democratic process, and the rule of law”.
“One more situation that is of deep concern to me is that in Pakistan, hard-earned gains and the rule of law are at serious risk. I am alarmed by the recent escalation of violence, and by reports of mass arrests carried out under problematic laws, arrests that may amount to arbitrary detention,” Volker said in a press conference.
“Particularly disturbing are reports that Pakistan intends to revive the use of military courts to try civilians, which would contravene its international human rights law obligations,” he added.
He called on the authorities to ensure prompt, impartial, transparent investigations into deaths and injuries that occurred during the 9 May protests.
“The only path to a safe, secure, prosperous Pakistan is one that is paved with respect for human rights, democratic processes, and the rule of law, with the meaningful and free participation of all sectors of society,” he further added.
In December last year, Volker launched a year-long commemoration of the 75th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Since then, UNHRC has issued a series of initiatives calling on States and all others to make pledges, and to take explicit steps to fulfil the promises of the Universal Declaration.
In the press conference, Volker said that the Human Rights 75 programme will culminate in a high-level event on 11 and 12 December, convened by UNHRC High Commissioner’s in Geneva, linked up with Bangkok, Nairobi and Panama City.
“This year, we also celebrate 30 years since the World Conference on Human Rights in Vienna created the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, he stated.
Speaking on how under-resourced his office is, he called on donors, State, corporate and private, to help establish Human Rights offices everywhere.
“A strong UN Human Rights Office and a healthy, well-resourced human rights ecosystem are of global interest,” he added.
“We call out violations and set off alarm bells when attacks on, neglect of, or disdain for human rights could set off crises,” he further stated.
Our work on accountability and transitional justice has helped ensure that perpetrators of serious human rights violations end up in prison, and our work on the protection of civic space and human rights defenders has secured the release of people who are detained in violation of their rights.
He also spoke on the Rohingya situation in Myanmar.
“For decades, the authorities in Myanmar have deprived the Rohingya of their rights and freedoms and relentlessly attacked other ethnic groups, eroding their capacity to survive,” he said.
Speaking on the political crisis in Sudan he said that the desperate situation of the people of Sudan, who fought so courageously against the repression of their rights, is “heartbreaking”.
“In spite of successive ceasefires, civilians continue to be exposed to serious risk of death and injury – overnight we have had reports of fighter jets across Khartoum and clashes in some areas of the city, as well as gunfire heard in Khartoum-North and Omdurman,” he added.
“In Afghanistan, the Taliban continue, aggressively, to seek to erase half of the population from everyday life. Such a system of gender apartheid ruins the development potential of the country. I will never understand how anyone can trample so cruelly upon the spirit of girls and women, chipping away at their potential and driving one’s country deeper and deeper into abject poverty and despair. It is crucial – for the sake of the people of Afghanistan, the future of the country and the wider region – that repressive policies against women and girls are immediately overturned,” he commented on the rights of women in Afghanistan after the Taliban takeover.
The arrest of Imran Khan at the Islamabad High Court on May 9 triggered violent protests across the country. Nevertheless, the Supreme Court intervened, nullified his arrest, and ordered his release.