Pakistan

 

  • CIVICUS UN Universal Periodic Review submissions on civil society space

    CIVICUS and its partners have submitted joint and stand-alone UN Universal Periodic Review (UPR) submissions on 9 countries in advance of the 28th UPR session (November 2017). The submissions examine the state of civil society in each country, including the promotion and protection of the rights to freedom of association, assembly and expression and the environment for human rights defenders. We further provide an assessment of the States’ domestic implementation of civic space recommendations received during the 2nd UPR cycle over 4 years ago and provide a number of targeted follow-up recommendations.  

    Countries examined: Benin, Gabon, Guatemala, Pakistan, Peru, South Korea, Sri Lanka, Ukraine and Zambia.

     

  • Global rights group condemns detention of human rights activist in Pakistan

    • Global rights alliance condemns the detention of Muhammad Ismail, a human rights activist and CIVICUS member who has been promoting human rights in Pakistan for more than a decade
    • Ismail and his family have been facing months of harassment and intimidation
    • This incident highlights the hostile environment for human rights defenders and others in Pakistan to exercise their freedom of expression

    CIVICUS, the global civil society alliance, is extremely concerned about the arbitrary detention of Muhammad Ismail, a human rights activist and CIVICUS member, and calls for his immediate release. His detention is a serious escalation of the ongoing judicial harassment and intimidation of Ismail and his family that has persisted for months.

    In July 2019, Muhammad Ismail was accused of baseless charges under the Anti-Terrorism Act in connection with the legitimate human rights work of his daughter, Gulalai Ismail. On 24 October 2019, he travelled to the Peshawar High Court for a hearing, which had been routinely postponed. He was leaving the premises when he was accosted outside the court by men dressed in black militia uniform, who forced him into a black vehicle. His whereabouts remained unknown until the morning of 25 October, when he appeared in the custody of Pakistan’s Federal Investigations Agency before a judicial magistrate and brought with further charges under the Pakistan Electronic Crimes Act. He was served a 14-day judicial remand and remains detained.

    Muhammad Ismail is a prominent member of Pakistani civil society and the focal person for the Pakistan NGO Forum (PNF), an umbrella body composed of five networks of civil society organizations (CSOs) in Pakistan. He is a long-standing member of the Affinity Group of National Associations (AGNA), a network of national associations and regional platforms from around the world. His daughter Gulalai Ismail is a human rights defender who has faced persecution from authorities for her advocacy for the rights of women and girls, and her efforts to end human rights violations against the ethnic Pashtun people. She was subsequently granted asylum in the United States of America.

    “The Pakistan authorities must immediately release Muhammad Ismail from pre-trial detention and drop all charges against him. The new set of baseless charges levelled against him today are a clear continuation and escalation in an ongoing campaign of judicial harassment,” said Josef Benedict, Civic Space Researcher with CIVICUS.

    Prior to his detention, Muhammad Ismail and his family had faced months of harassment and intimidation, including at least three raids on their family home in Islamabad, as well as threats of physical harm to Gulalai Ismail’s younger sister. Security forces also took away the family’s driver, interrogated him, and subjected him to physical acts of ill-treatment. Previously, on 18 October 2019, Muhammad Ismail survived an attempt to abduct him from his home in Islamabad.

    “The authorities must also cease all forms of harassment and threats against Ismail’s family. This highlights the hostile environment for human rights defenders and others in Pakistan to exercise their freedom of expression,” said Josef Benedict.

    CIVICUS has documented systematic harassment and threats against human rights defenders and political activists, many who have been charged for exercising their freedom of expression. Journalists have also been targeted and media coverage critical of the state have been suppressed. There have been ongoing cases of enforced disappearances in Pakistan despite pledges by the government of Prime Minister Imran Khan to criminalise the practice

    These violations are inconsistent with Pakistan’s international obligations, including those under the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) which it ratified in 2008. These include obligations to respect and protect civil society’s fundamental rights to the freedoms of association, peaceful assembly and expression. These fundamental freedoms are also guaranteed in Pakistan’s Constitution.

    The CIVICUS Monitor, an online platform that tracks threats to civil society in countries across the globe, rates civic space – the space for civil society – in Pakistan as Repressed.


    For more information or to arrange an interview, please contact:

    Josef Benedict ;

     

  • India: Crackdown continues in Jammu & Kashmir

    Joint statement at the 43rd Session of the UN Human Rights Council

    Our organizations express grave concern over the human rights situation in Jammu & Kashmir, where the authorities imposed severe restrictions after a decision to revoke constitutional autonomy on 5 August 2019, including one of the world’s longest internet shutdowns, which the Indian Supreme Court has said violates the right to freedom of expression.

    Hundreds were arbitrarily arrested, and there are some serious allegations of beatings and abusive treatment in custody, including alleged cases of torture. Three former chief ministers, other leading politicians, as well as separatist leaders and their alleged supporters, remain in detention under the Public Safety Act (PSA) and other abusive laws, many without charge and in undisclosed locations outside of Jammu & Kashmir.  This violates fair trial safeguards of the criminal justice system and undermines accountability, transparency, and respect for human rights. Journalists and human rights defenders have been threatened for criticizing the clampdown. These violations, as those committed over the past decades, are met with chronic impunity. 

    We urge the government of India to ensure independent observers including all human rights defenders and foreign journalists are allowed proper access to carry out their work freely and without fear, release everyone detained without charge, and remove restrictions on the rights to freedom of expression and freedom of movement, including where they have been denied the right to leave the country by being placed on the ‘Exit Control List’.

    We also call on the governments of India and Pakistan to grant unconditional access to OHCHR and other human rights mechanisms to Kashmir.

    We further urge the Council to establish an independent international investigation mechanism into past and ongoing crimes under international law and human rights violations by all parties in Kashmir, as recommended by the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights.

    Amnesty International
    Asian Forum for Human Rights and Development (FORUM-ASIA)
    CIVICUS - World Alliance for Citizen Participation
    Human Rights Watch
    International Commission of Jurists
    International Federation for Human Rights Leagues (FIDH)
    International Service for Human Rights
    World Organisation Against Torture (OMCT)

    This statement is also supported by the Association of Parents of Disappeared Persons (APDP) and the Jammu Kashmir Coalition of Civil Society (JKCCS)


    See our wider advocacy priorities and programme of activities at the 43rd Session of the UN Human Rights Council

     

  • Judicial harassment of human rights defender Muhammad Ismail

    CIVICUS: World Alliance for Citizen Participation, Front Line Defenders, FIDH, in the framework of the Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders, the World Organisation Against Torture(OMCT), and the International Service for Human Rights strongly condemn the deliberate targeting of human rights defender Muhammed Ismail and his wife Uzlifat Ismail, the parents of woman human rights defender Gulalai Ismail. The authorities must halt the ongoing judicial harassment against Gulalai Ismail and her family, which is a direct reprisal due to her human rights work. Gulalai has multiple criminal complaints filed against her, including under regressive anti-terror laws. Since she was forced to leave Pakistan due to concerns for her safety, her parents have been targeted under the Penal Code, anti-terrorism laws and cyber security legislation. In the most recent incident, Pakistan authorities approached the Anti Terrorism Court in Peshawar, and filed a new case with charges that include sedition and terrorism. On 30 September 2020, the court charged the three defenders.

     

  • Judicial harassment of human rights defender Muhammed Ismail persists amid pandemic

    The Pakistan authorities must halt their judicial harassment of human rights defender Muhammed Ismail and his wife Uzlifat Ismail and drop all charges against them, said CIVICUS, FIDH, the World Organisation Against Torture (OMCT) and Front Line Defenders. The human rights defender faces charges under the Anti-Terrorism Act and the Pakistan Electronic Crimes Act and is currently on conditional bail, which Pakistan’s Federal Investigative Agency has sought to revoke. His next hearing to determine bail is scheduled for 18 May 2020 before the Peshawar High Court.

     

  • Pakistan fails to meet Millennium Development Goals

    This was stated by deputy country director UNDP Pakistan, Jean-Luc Stalon, at a roundtable discussion on “Consultations on Post 2015 Development Agenda from a Pakistani Perspective” jointly organised by UNDP and Sustainable Development Policy Institute (SDPI), here on Wednesday.  Dr Vaqar deputy executive director, SDPI, moderated over the proceedings.


    Millennium Development Goals: The Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) are eight international development goals that were officially established following the Millennium Summit of the United Nations in 2000, following the adoption of the United Nations Millennium Declaration.

     

    Read more at Dawn.com Newspaper 

     

     

     

  • Pakistan shuts down and kicks out 18 International NGOs, with 20 others facing expulsion

    •  Pakistan has expelled 18 international non-governmental organisations (INGOs)
    • Another 20 organisations are also at risk of expulsion
    • Pakistan’s policy on INGOs effectively hampers the registration and functioning of international humanitarian and human rights groups

    Global human rights groups have expressed grave concern over the expulsion of 18 international non-governmental organisations (INGOs) from Pakistan.

    The Pakistani authorities ordered the INGOs to leave the country after rejecting their final appeals to remain. According to reports, all 18 expelled organisations, with the exception of two that are still trying to overturn their ouster in court, have closed their operations in Pakistan. Another 20 groups are reportedly also at risk of expulsion following the authorities’ singling out of a total of 38 international aid groups for closure a few months ago.  

    Global civil society alliance, CIVICUS, said this was a regressive move that will have a negative impact on thousands of ordinary Pakistani families that have been assisted by these organisations to claim their rights and build a better life.

    “The Pakistani government's closure of international organisations is a clear violation of the fundamental right to freedom of association,” said David Kode, CIVICUS’s Advocacy and Campaigns Lead.

    “It shows a disturbing disregard for the well-being of ordinary Pakistanis who rely on and benefit from the assistance and support provided by these groups," said Kode.

    On October 3, Pakistan’s Interior Ministry ordered 18 INGOs, including Action Aid, Plan International, International Alert and Safer World, to wind up their operations within 60 days. This followed the Ministry’s rejection of their applications for re-registration, without offering reasons, in November 2017.

    Pakistan has the world’s sixth largest population, a fifth of which live in poverty. In 2017 alone, the INGO sector reached an estimated 34 million people with humanitarian relief and development assistance. The INGOs affected by the closure order are engaged in supporting access to healthcare, education and good governance.

    These expulsions come three years after the previous government ordered all INGOs operating in Pakistan to re-register with the Interior Ministry, under a new policy that worked to hamper the registration and functioning of international humanitarian and human rights groups.

    The new policy and registration process required the submission of detailed accounts of INGOs’ current and past project funding. Even more concerning, all INGOs working in the country are required to sign a new Memorandum of Understanding (MoU), which prohibits any participation in ‘political activity,’ such as campaigning and advocacy activities, as well as distribution of materials deemed to negatively affect social, cultural and religious sentiments. The MoU also prevents INGOs from appealing the government’s decisions in court.

    CIVICUS said the removal of these INGOs violates the right to freedom of association enshrined in Article 17 of Pakistan’s Constitution and guaranteed by Article 22 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, which Pakistan is a party to. Any restriction on the right to freedom of association must be in strict compliance with international human rights law. In particular, any restriction shall be prescribed by law and must have a legitimate aim. Furthermore, the law concerned must be precise, certain and foreseeable. It shall also be adopted through a democratic process that ensures public participation and review. The recent actions fulfill none of these criteria.

    “The Pakistani government must reconsider its decision to expel these groups and halt any further plans to shut down other civil society organisations.” Said Kode.

    “Instead, as part of its reform agenda, it should take steps to revise its policy on INGOs to avoid contravening the rights to freedom of expression and association and ensure the policy cannot be misused to restrict organisations’ legitimate work.” said Kode.

    CIVICUS has urged the government to create an enabling environment for civil society and human rights defenders to operate, in accordance with the rights enshrined in the Constitution of Pakistan, International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) and the UN Declaration on Human Rights Defenders, among others.

    The CIVICUS Monitor, an online platform that tracks threats to civil society in countries across the globe, rates civic space – the space for civil society – in Pakistan as repressed.

    ENDS

    For more information or to arrange an interview, please contact:

    David Kode - email:

    CIVICUS Media –

     

  • PAKISTAN: ‘Democratic forces have become weak due to prolonged military regimes’

    As part of our 2018 report on the theme ofreimagining democracy, we are interviewing civil society activists and leaders about their work to promote democratic practices and principles, the challenges they encounter and the victories they score. CIVICUS speaks to Peter Jacob, the Executive Director of the Centre for Social Justice in Pakistan, a civil society organisation (CSO) engaging in research and advocacy on human rights, the democratic development and social justice. He has been an activist, researcher and freelance journalist for over 30 years.

    In Pakistan’s July 2018 elections, Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf, a party led by Imran Khan,emerged as the largest party in parliament, breaking the decades-long dominance of the Pakistan People's Party and the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz. The election wasovershadowed by hundreds of political arrests, a massive crackdown on the media and allegations that the powerful military covertly backed Imran Khan.

    What do you see as the key components of a functioning democracy, and how do you assess the quality of democracy in Pakistan against those standards?

    Just as anywhere else, a functioning democracy should have democratic norms, including constitutions and traditions, democratic institutions, including parliament and an opposition, basic freedoms of association, peaceful assembly and expression, and a robust civil society that advocates for exercising these freedoms. Pakistan is struggling to become an inclusive and vibrant democracy after transitioning from a military-led government, even though direct military rule ended 10 years ago.

    Pakistan faces an inherent challenge on account of having a constitution that provides for both a theocracy and a democracy, or a mix of religion and politics, posing specific risks to the rights of religious minorities.

    How would you assess the conduct of the July 2018 elections? To what extent do you feel they were free and fair? What were the key challenges encountered and lessons learned?

    The elections were held at a time when the previous government was facing trials on corruption and other charges, so there was a lot of speculation and allegations of gerrymandering. The government and the opposition have agreed to form a parliamentary commission to probe into these allegations. Whatever the outcome, one expects that it will help bring maturity and stability into the politics and governance of the country.

    Until recently Pakistan has faced enormous challenges such as terrorism and lawlessness, low economic performance and an expanding population. It is understandable that the government system is weak and recovery is expected to be incremental. Additionally, the electoral system is not strong enough to have full transparency of the electoral process.

    Nevertheless, one can say that there was wide participation by citizens in the recent elections and therefore the continuation of the democratic process presents hopes for building a fuller democracy. The decision of the opposition to become part of parliament has at least ensured that there isn’t a political crisis in the immediate post-election phase.

    How did conditions for civil society change in the run-up to the elections?

    A section of government has been always sceptical of CSOs; therefore, action against both international and domestic CSOs started back in 2015, largely through registration laws that were used to curtail their operations or their role in the social and public spheres. A smear campaign has also been going on, particularly against rights-based groups, which has pushed them to justify and maintain their own existence. CSOs also became victims of terrorism, and even though terrorist attacks have gradually decreased since 2015, a recovery from that situation has not come about. Therefore, the July 2018 elections did not do much to change the conditions for the civil society for the better.

    To what extent was civil society able to mobilise around the elections?

    Owing to these existential threats, during the recent elections, there were few organisations that could participate or even prepare to mobilise opinion around the elections.

    However, due to popular human rights campaigns in the past and present, all political parties were obliged to incorporate a section on human rights in their election manifestos, which provides space for CSOs engagement in the future.

    What are your key hopes and fears for the new administration that has come to power following the elections, and what should its priorities be?

    The new government presents hope as it has come up with a rather holistic version of a development agenda, so besides a capitalist or neoliberal agenda they have laid an emphasis on environmental conservation, austerity and fighting corruption. Pakistanis, including the opposition, want this agenda to succeed as much as the government does. But Imran Khan has assumed power for the first time at the federal level and is therefore prone to mistakes. The biggest fear is that this team might land themselves in a trouble politically or take on a challenge bigger than they can handle. For example, the government made high claims about reducing its dependence on foreign lending yet it was obliged to approach the International Monetary Fund for a bailout. This indicates some miscalculations or poor assessment of the challenges in the economy and the way forward.        

    Some delicate issues may serve as on-the-job training for the government. For instance if the government can handle religious extremism where they have shown some tendency to perform - as in the well-known case of Asia Bibi, a victim of blasphemy laws - there is a pretty good chance that they will take the country forward.

    Besides focusing on economic challenges, the government should also pay attention to the quality of education and cultural rights. At the moment, public education is mere indoctrination, and cultural and creative expressions are suffocated by censorship of various kinds, so they need to be unshackled.

    Are there other key challenges for civil society’s fundamental rights and democratic freedoms in Pakistan?

    The country is still passing through multiple transitions, such as in its external relations and the economy, which for too long have depended on US military aid and the World Bank’s financial assistance. The country needs to free itself economically and politically. Democratic forces were weakened by prolonged military regimes. The government is inclined to learn from the Chinese model, which is not a democratic one.

    The media is facing curbs on its freedoms and CSOs are facing severe restrictions including a clampdown on receiving foreign funding, although CSOs are fighting back. Given its tradition of struggle against autocratic regimes, civil society might still make a comeback; however, there is currently a lot of confusion as to how civil society space will be reclaimed. But since Pakistan is setting up human rights institutions for women’s, children’s and human rights more generally, these institutions may help to disseminate a stronger discourse and bring attention to fundamental standards of freedoms and rights.

    What support does Pakistani civil society need from the international community and international CSOs to help build greater respect for human rights and democratic freedoms?

    Human rights are all about internationalism and multilateralism, and countries must give and receive support from international actors, including international civil society, in their struggle for freedoms, which we strongly believe are interrelated. I would therefore like to encourage the international community and international CSOs to visit Pakistan, take stock of the ongoing developments and engage with the Pakistani people as well as the government.

    Civic space in Pakistan is rated as ‘repressed’ by theCIVICUS Monitor

    Get in touch with the Centre for Social Justice on Pakistan through theirwebsite

     

  • PAKISTAN: ‘The environment for civil society is suffocating’

    Aasim SaeedThroughout 2018, the space for civil society continued to deteriorate in Pakistan, particularly in the context of July’s election. CIVICUS speaks about the increasing restrictions on criticism and dissent with Aasim Saeed, a Pakistani blogger who in 2017 was abducted and tortured for his online posts. After his release, Aasim was granted asylum in the UK, where he now lives.

    How would you describe the environment for civil society in Pakistan over the past year?

    I would describe it as suffocating. The government uses harassment, threats, abduction, blackmailing through family members, torture and in certain cases death to curb dissent. Restrictions on the freedom of expression have increased and a lot of media houses have resorted to self-censorship. Newspapers are being forced not to give coverage to dissenting voices. For instance, Express Tribune, the Pakistani version of the New York Times, was recently forced to leave blank spaces when an interview with the leader of the Pushtoon Protection Movement, Manzoor Pashteen, was published in its international edition.

    Behind these restrictions are most certainly the military, who abuse the 2016 Prevention of Electronic Crimes Act (PECA) and the Anti-Terrorism Act. They have started to apply PECA against anybody who tries to raise their voices through social media, as this is the only remaining outlet available for people to raise their concerns.

    The most threatening part is when Pakistan’s intelligence agencies use electronic, print and social media to accuse activists of sedition. It gets life-threatening when religion is used as a tool and accusations of blasphemy are levelled against activists. Articles 295-C and 298 of the Penal Code make the death penalty mandatory for those found guilty of blasphemy. Scarily, those accused hardly ever make it to court, because they are often lynched by street vigilantes.

    The politically motivated use of blasphemy laws is widespread. Professor Junaid Hafeez, a former lecturer in English Literature, has spent years behind bars, often in solitary confinement, due to false blasphemy accusations that were politically and personally motivated. His legal case has not progressed from the District Court in years. Every time a verdict is expected, judges get themselves transferred, while one of Junaid’s key lawyers was shot dead in the early days of the case.

    The situation worsened as the July 2018 elections approached, as opposition parties were challenging the military-backed party that went on to win the elections. Opposition parties weren’t given much coverage on mainstream media and on election day their results were delayed. Serious allegations of large-scale vote rigging were raised as the electronic result transmission system was made to look like it had failed when it hadn’t; the delay was caused intentionally so that ballot papers belonging to various opposition parties could be manually voided. In several districts the number of rejected votes was much larger than the margin of defeat. The number of rejected votes was higher than ever before, even in districts where the total number of votes cast was lower than in the past. In some places a recount was done and the opposition gained a number of extra seats; however, no recount was allowed in key districts, where it was ensured that the military’s puppets got elected.

    Many people don’t give up and still raise their voices, but it’s increasingly dangerous to do so, because people are getting abducted for their Facebook posts or tweets against the powerful military junta or their ‘selected’ prime minister. They have recently started to react if you make online criticisms of the prime minister or any minister. Calling the prime minister a crook can land you in jail. They used to allow criticism of politicians but they are not allowing it anymore.

    You have experienced persecution for exercising online free expression. Can you tell us more about your case?

    In 2017 I was living and working in Singapore, but in early January that year I was in Pakistan for my brother’s wedding when I was abducted from my family home, in broad daylight, by several men in plainclothes who I believe were elements of the security forces. At the time I administered a Facebook page critical of the military establishment, Mochi, and I had been accused repeatedly on mainstream media outlets of promoting blasphemy on social networks.

    Three other bloggers and activists who were also critics of the military and religious establishment were abducted at about the same time. Our websites and blogs were shut down as we were abducted, suggesting the two things were connected.

    Initially I was interrogated about Mochi and ordered to hand over the passwords to my email accounts and mobile phone. Then I was moved to a secret detention facility where I was held alongside people who I think were religious terrorists. I was beaten until I lost consciousness, and moved several times. At another detention facility closer to the capital, Islamabad, I was subjected to polygraph tests while being repeatedly questioned about alleged links to the Indian intelligence service, which of course I don’t have. My interrogators also analysed my Facebook posts and interrogated me about the reasons why I was critical of the army. Several times I thought I would be killed.

    I was gone for about three weeks and was extremely lucky to be released, because many missing persons never return home. Fortunately, there were protests and solidarity actions in Pakistan and around the world, and the Pakistani government was pressured into providing information and eventually releasing me and other kidnapped bloggers and activists. At the same time, a counter-campaign was held by right-wing religious clerics and TV anchors who kept accusing us of blasphemy. But for once, pressures to hold the government accountable for its human rights violations had a positive effect.

    In late 2017 I applied for asylum in the UK, where I am now based.

    What actions should the Pakistani government take to safeguard democratic space?

    At a very basic level, the Pakistani government should adhere to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and respect United Nations resolutions. Citizens should be allowed to speak up and freedom of speech or dissent shouldn’t be equated with treason, which is currently the case. For instance, if you criticise any government institution, and the military or the army in particular, you will be called a traitor and are likely to be booked under charges of treason or sedition, and in certain cases blasphemy. The space for civil society has gradually been reduced and even members of parliament have been abducted for expressing criticism of the government in their parliamentary speeches.

    What support should international civil society give to Pakistani civil society?

    Most international civil society organisations have been forced to close their offices in Pakistan and are not allowed to work in the country. I believe international civil society should engage Pakistani activists in international forums and venues where the issues that affect them can be raised and attention can be drawn to their cases. I personally feel that the current level of engagement is very low.

    Civic space in Pakistan is rated as ‘repressed’ by theCIVICUS Monitor.

    Get in touch with Aasim through hiswebsite orFacebook page, or follow@AasimSaeedPPP on Twitter.

     

  • Pakistan: Civil society calls for the immediate release of Mohammed Ismail

     UPDATE 26 November 2019: 


    بالعربية

    The undersigned members of CIVICUS, the global alliance of civil society organisations, and the Affinity Group of National Associations (AGNA) call for the immediate release of Professor Mohammed Ismail from pre-trial detention in Pakistan and an end to all forms of harassment, intimidation and threats against him and his family.

    Mohammed Ismail is a long-standing member of AGNA, a network of 90 national associations and regional platforms from around the world. He is the focal person for the Pakistan NGO Forum (PNF), an umbrella body of civil society organizations (CSOs) in Pakistan. His daughter Gulalai Ismail is a human rights defender who has faced persecution from authorities for her advocacy for the rights of women and girls, and her efforts to end human rights violations against the ethnic Pashtun people. She was subsequently granted asylum in the United States of America.

    In July 2019, Mohammed Ismail was accused of charges under the Anti-Terrorism Act in connection with the legitimate human rights work of his daughter, Gulalai Ismail. On 24 October 2019, he was accosted outside Peshawar Court by men dressed in black militia uniforms, who forced him into a black vehicle. His whereabouts remained unknown until the morning of 25 October, when he appeared in the custody of Pakistan’s Federal Investigations Agency before a judicial magistrate and brought with further charges under the Pakistan Electronic Crimes Act. He remains detained and his bail requests have been rejected by the courts.

    We are furthermore deeply concerned by credible reports we have received around the appalling conditions under which Professor Ismail is being detained which may amount to cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment. He has been denied medical care despite having multiple health conditions including a neurological disorder, dislocated discs in his back, kidney pain and high creatinine levels. He has also been denied medical care for his hypertension.

    Prior to his detention, Mohammed Ismail and his family had faced months of intimidation, including at least three raids on their family home in Islamabad, as well as threats of physical harm to Gulalai Ismail’s younger sister.

    The accusations against Mohammed Ismail are unfounded and appear to have been leveled by the authorities to silence Mohammed Ismail and Gulalai. Such judicial harassment and intimidation highlights the hostile environment for human rights defenders, journalists, and others in Pakistan to exercise their freedom of expression and be critical of the state.

    We, CIVICUS and AGNA members urge the Pakistan authorities to release Professor Ismail immediately and unconditionally, and to put an end to all acts of harassment against Professor Mohammed Ismail, Gulalai Ismail and their family and drop all charges against them. We also call on the authorities to take immediate steps to ensure that all human rights defenders in Pakistan can carry out their legitimate activities without any hindrance or fear of reprisals.

    Signatories:
    1. PCS Palestine
    2. Hui E! Community Aotearoa
    3. Uganda National NGO Forum
    4. Plataforma de ONG de accion social
    5. Balkan Civil Society Development Network
    6. Botswana Council of NGO’s
    7. Réseau des Organisations de la Société Civile pour le Développement (RESOCIDE)
    8. PIANGO
    9. Network of Estonian Non-profit Organizations
    10. Instituto de Comunicación y Desarrollo
    11. Alianza ONG
    12. Samoa Umbrella Non Government Organization
    13. NGO Federation Nepal
    14. Nigeria Network of NGOs
    15. Scotland’s International Development Alliance
    16. Civic Initiatives, Serbia
    17. SOSTE Finnish Federation for Social Affairs and Health

     

  • Pakistan: Democracy Dialogue Report: 17 August 2018

    Democracy Dialogue held by Blue Veins in Peshawar, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, 17 August 2018

     

  • Pakistan: Government orders closure of 18 civil society organisations

    Global civil society calls on the Government of Pakistan to reverse its order to close 18 human rights and development organisations

    25 national, regional and international civil society organisations (CSOs) express their deep concern over the suspension and expulsion of 18 international non-governmental organisations (INGOs) in Pakistan. These organizations serve millions of people in Pakistan and contribute to the country’s economic and social development. We are also concerned that these actions indicate further restrictions to Pakistan’s already repressed civic space and urge the government to reconsider this decision.
     
    On 3 October 2018, Pakistan’s Interior Ministry ordered 18 INGOs to wind up their operations within 60 days. The Interior Ministry had rejected their applications for re-registration in November 2017 without providing reasons, and subsequently rejected their appeals of the rejections. The appeals of more than a dozen other INGOs are still under review.
      
    These expulsions come three years after the previous government ordered all INGOs operating in Pakistan to re-register with the Interior Ministry in October 2015, under a new INGO policy that effectively impedes the registration and functioning of international humanitarian and human rights groups.
     
    The new policy and registration process required the submission of detailed accounts of INGOs’ current and past project funding. Even more concerning, all INGOs working in Pakistan are required to sign a new Memorandum of Understanding (MoU), which prohibits any participation in ‘political activity,’ such as campaigning and advocacy activities, as well as distribution of materials deemed to negatively affect social, cultural and religious sentiments. The MoU also prevents INGOs from appealing the government’s decisions in court.
     
    Local and concerned NGOs have called on the Interior Ministry to permit the INGOs to reapply for registration before closing their operations to avoid the extensive disruption that would otherwise occur. Pakistan has the world’s sixth biggest population, but a fifth of the people are still living in poverty. INGOs are helping to deliver the new governments’ 100-day reform agenda. In 2017 alone, the INGO sector reached an estimated 34 million people with humanitarian relief and development assistance. The 18 NGOs affected by the closure order are engaged in supporting access to healthcare, education and good governance.
     
    The undersigned groups urge the government of Pakistan to create an enabling environment for civil society and human rights defenders to operate in accordance with the rights enshrined in the Constitution of Pakistan, International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) and the UN Declaration on Human Rights Defenders, among others.
     
    We therefore urge the Pakistani authorities to reconsider its decision to suspend these organisations and to allow them to apply again for re-registration. We also call on the government to revise the policy for INGOs so that it does not contravene the rights to freedom of expression and association and cannot be misused to restrict their legitimate work.
     
    Sincerely,
     
    African Centre for Democracy and Human Rights Studies (ACDHRS)
    Americans for Democracy and Human Rights in Bahrain (ADHRB)
    Asia Development Alliance 
    Asian Human Rights Commission (AHRC)
    Association For Human Rights in Ethiopia (AHRE)
    Association for Progressive Communications (APC)
    Bytes for All ( Pakistan)
    Caucasus Civil Initiatives Center (CCIC)
    CIVICUS
    Сenter for Civil Liberties, Ukraine
    Civil Society Organisations Network for Development (RESOCIDE), Burkina Faso
    Digital Rights Foundation, Pakistan
    Fundacion Ciudadano Inteligente, Chile
    Free Expression Myanmar (FEM), Myanmar 
    Human Rights Concern - Eritrea (HRCE)
    Innovation 4 Change( I4C)  South Asia Hub
    Irish Council for Civil Liberties (ICCL)
    Karapatan, Philippines 
    Kontras, Indonesia
    Lokataru Foundation, Indonesia
    Metro Center, Iraq
    Odhikar, Bangladesh
    SUDIA (Sudanese Development Initiative), Sudan
    Uganda National NGO Forum, Uganda
    West African Human Rights Defenders’ Network (WAHRDN/ROADDH)

     

  • Pakistan: Human rights activist Muhammad Ismail detained and ill-treated

    CIVICUS, the global civil society alliance, is extremely concerned about the detention and ill-treatment of Mohammed Ismail, a human rights defender and CIVICUS partner, and calls for his immediate release. His detention by Pakistan’s anti-terrorism police is a serious escalation of the ongoing judicial harassment and intimidation of Ismail and his family that has persisted since July 2019.

    Both Muhammed Ismail and his wife, Uzlifat Ismail, are currently facing baseless charges in relation to terrorism, sedition and criminal conspiracy. On 2 February 2021, human rights defender Muhammad Ismail was arrested at the Anti-Terrorism Court-III in Peshawar, following the cancellation of his interim pre-arrest bail in a case lodged by the Counter-Terrorism Department (CTD). He was held briefly incommunicado and is now is in the custody of the Counter Terrorism Department Police Station in Peshawar

    Two days after his arrest, he was taken, bound in chains to his family home in Marghuz village, Swabi District by the Counter-Terrorism police who searched his family home, confiscating mobile phones. According to credible sources the police brought with them documents that were planted during the raid. The police also raided the homes of Muhammed Ismail’s relatives.

    CIVICUS believe all cases brought against him are in retaliation against his criticism of human rights violations in the country and for the human rights work of his daughter, Gulalai Ismail, and connected with the state harassment against her. She has faced persecution from authorities for her peaceful advocacy for the rights of women and girls, and her efforts to end human rights violations against the ethnic Pashtun people in Pakistan. She was forced to flee the country due to concerns for her safety.

    “This is another example of state machinery being used in Pakistan to intimidate and silence human rights defenders like Muhammed Ismail and Gulalai Ismail, including by allegedly fabricating evidence to support baseless accusations. The Pakistan authorities must immediately release Muhammad Ismail from detention and drop all charges against him and his wife,” said David Kode, head of advocacy and campaigns at CIVICUS.

    Mohammed Ismail is a prominent member of Pakistani civil society and the focal person for the Pakistan NGO Forum (PNF), an umbrella body composed of five networks of civil society organizations (CSOs) in Pakistan. He is a long-standing member of the Affinity Group of National Associations (AGNA), a network of national associations and regional platforms from around the world.

    Prior to his detention, Mohammed Ismail and his family had faced systematic harassment and intimidation from the security forces.  In October 2019, Muhammed Ismail was forcibly abducted from outside the Peshawar High Court by unidentified men, and later found in the custody of Federal Investigation Agency’s Cyber Crimes Unit.  He was granted conditional bail after spending a month in detention. Muhammad Ismail and his wife have been placed on the Exit Control List, barring them from leaving the country.

    During the pandemic, Muhammed Ismail, 66, has been forced to attend numerous court hearings, many of which has been routinely postponed on the day. During the course of this, Muhammed Ismail contracted COVID-19. It may be the case that numerous court hearings in relation to these charges exposed him to the virus and his detention could put him again at risk.

    “The authorities have been using the judicial system to harass Muhammad Ismail since 2019. Given the pandemic, his age and poor health, we are particularly concerned that his detention could prove fatal” said David Kode.

    CIVICUS has documented systematic harassment and threats against human rights defenders and political activists, many who have been charged for exercising their freedom of expression. Journalists have also been targeted and media coverage critical of the state have been suppressed. 

    These violations are inconsistent with Pakistan’s international obligations, including those under the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) which it ratified in 2008. These include obligations to respect and protect civil society’s fundamental rights to the freedoms of association, peaceful assembly and expression. These fundamental freedoms are also guaranteed in Pakistan’s Constitution. 


    The CIVICUS Monitor, an online platform that tracks threats to civil society in countries across the globe, rates civic space – the space for civil society – in Pakistan as Repressed

     

  • Pakistan: Joint letter on civic space violations against Pashtuns

    Dr Shireen M Mazari
    Federal Minister for Human Rights
    Ministry of Human Rights
    9th Floor, New Pak Secretariat (Kohsar Block)
    Sector F-5, Islamabad, Pakistan

    Concerns regarding civic space violations against thePashtun Tahafuz Movement (PTM)

    CIVICUS: the World Alliance for Citizen Participation is a global alliance of civil society organisations (CSOs) and activists dedicated to strengthening citizen action and civil society around the world. Founded in 1993, CIVICUS has members in more than 170 countries.

    The Pakistan NGO Forum (PNF) is an umbrella body composed of five networks of civil society organisations (CSOs) in Pakistan. Collectively, the networks have about 5,000 community-based organisations and CSOs as members. PNF’s primary mission is to create a conducive working environment for CSOs in Pakistan

    We are writing to you with regards to our concerns on civic space violations against the ethnic Pashtun people and in particular the Pashtun Tahafuz Movement (PTM). The PTM mobilised nationwide against human rights violations against Pashtun people, sparked by the killing of a young Pashtun man, Naqeebullah Mehsud, by the police in January 2018.

    As well as seeking justice for Naqeebullah’s killing, the movement mobilised around wider calls. Protesters have demanded the formation of a truth and reconciliation commission to examine human rights violations committed by the state and non-state actors in Pashtun areas, including enforced disappearances allegedly perpetrated by the Pakistan army, and extrajudicial killings. Protesters also continue to call for equal rights for Pashtun people, as guaranteed by the constitution, and the restoration of peace in Pashtun areas and the region in general.[1]

    The CIVICUS Monitor, which tracks civic freedoms on a global scale, has documented a series of violations by the authorities and other actors, as set out below.

    The disruption of protests and arrest of protesters

    Scores of protesters have been detained or charged since the beginning of the protests, some under terrorism charges. In most cases, many of those detained were released without charge after weeks in prison. 

    • In March 2018, criminal cases were filed against Manzoor Pashteen and four other PTM leaders. The men were investigated for ‘provoking with intent to cause riot’ and ‘promoting enmity between different groups’ under sections 153 and 153a of Pakistan’s criminal code. According to human rights groups, the accusations were fabricated in “an attempt to smear the PTM and punish its leaders for exercising their rights to freedom of expression and freedom of assembly.”[2]
    • In March 2018, Manzoor Pashteen reported that PTM supporters had received threats that they would be implicated in terrorism offences.[3] In December 2018, he was banned from entering Balochistan province on the grounds of “incitement of unrest in the province through his hate speech and incendiary statement against the state and its institutions.” The ban remains in place.[4]
    • In April 2018, at least 30 activists were arrested in the run-up to the Lahore rally. Police gave no reasons for the arrests; according to reports, “some bystanders kept asking the police as to why were they being picked up and where were they being taken to, but they gave no answer nor produced any arrest warrants as they whisked them away in their police van.”[5]
    • In May 2018, police lodged cases against more than 150 PTM supporters for holding rallies across Karachi. The 150 were accused of crimes ranging from sedition and rioting to terror offences. PTM leader and member of parliament (MP) Mohsin Dawar told news outlet Dawni that the cases were a “tactic” to sabotage PTM’s main Karachi rally, planned to be held on 13 May 2018.[6]
    • In June 2018, 37 PTM activists were arrested at a rally at the National Press Club in Islamabad. According to reports, they were made to sit in a prison van for three hours while the temperature was at almost 40 degrees Celsius before they were taken to Adiala jail. The 37 activists, who included several students, were subsequently charged with sedition.[7] Their cases were referred to an anti-terrorism court, and all were denied bail until 24 September 2018, when the Islamabad district commissioner withdrew anti-terrorism charges.[8]
    • In October 2018, authorities filed a police report (FIR) against activists who had organised a peaceful protest in Bannu, in southern Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, the previous day.[9]
    • In January 2019, scores of protesters and PTM leaders were arrested during a rally on the outskirts of Karachi. Between 250 and 300 people were accused of various crimes under Pakistan’s Penal Code and Anti-Terrorism Act.[10] Among those arrested was Alamzeb Mehsud, a prominent PTM activist who had been profiling missing persons and other war victims. Footage of his arrest showed his vehicle being intercepted by the police on a busy road, and armed police officers forcing him to disembark before he was taken into custody. He was subsequently charged with inciting a riot, defamation, ‘promoting enmity between different groups’, and ‘statements conducing to public mischief’ read with Section 7 of Pakistan’s Anti-Terrorism Act. The court ordered him to be kept in custody for four days. Ali Wazir, a PTM leader and MP, was also charged, along with 15 other people.[11]

    According to reports, police routinely put pressure on local people to stay away from PTM protests in various cities in Pakistan. Local printing presses refused to print campaign posters while authorities pressured businesses to refuse to provide chairs and tents for protests. Ahead of an April 2018 rally in Swat, lawyer and PTM leader Iqbal Khan reported that officials in the Swat region made announcements from mosques to warn people against participating in the gathering.[12]

    Unlawful killing

    Our organisations are also concerned about the allegations of unlawful killing of a PTM leader Arman Loni, died in police custody on 2 February 2019.[13] He had been arrested earlier that day in the southwestern district of Loralai in Baluchistan after participating in a sit-in outside Loralai Press Club in protest against a recent terror attack. Several police officers reportedly physically assaulted him in public with rifle butts, and he suffered blows to the head and neck. A few hours later, he died in hospital.[14] To date, we are not aware of any credible investigation into the killing or any attempt to bring the perpetrators to justice. Arman’s death was only registered by the police after two months.[15] Our organisations are also seriously concerned about reports that witnesses to his killing have been tortured or otherwise ill-treated by security forces.[16]

    Three days after the murder, more than 80 PTM protesters were detained by police after they gathered outside the National Press Club in Islamabad to protest about Aman’s death.[17] At least 17 PTM members were subsequently charged under the West Pakistan Maintenance of Public Order Act of 1960 and moved to Adiala prison.

    Judicial harassment and threats against activists

    Activists have also faced harassment and threats for supporting the PTM. In August 2018, woman human rights defender Gulalai Ismail was accused, along with 19 other people, of making anti-state comments and using inflammatory language at a PTM rally in Swabi, Khyber Paktunkhwa province.[18] The 19 PTM activists faced charges of ‘unlawful assembly’, ‘punishment for rioting’ and ‘punishment for wrongful restraint’. In October 2018, Gulalai was briefly detained at Islamabad airport as she re-entered the country from the UK. Officials kept her passport but could not tell her which government department had put her name on the Exit Control List (ECL), which imposes a ban on travelling outside the country, or why.[19] In May 2019, the Peshawar High Court quashed[20] the charges against the PTM activists but Gulalai and other activists remain on the ECL.

    Hayat Preghal, a social media activist and supporter of the PTM, was released on bail on 3 October 2018 after more than two months in jail for social media posts that were deemed critical of the Pakistani authorities.[21] He had initially been detained in July 2018 while visiting his family and charged under sections 9 and 10 of Prevention of Electronic Crimes Act, 2016 for ‘anti-state activity through social media’, and sections 500 and 109 of the Pakistan Penal Code.

    Restrictions on media coverage

    We are also concerned that the authorities have attempted to suppress the PTM by silencing media coverage of the movement. In December 2018, internet service providers blocked the website of Voice of America's (VOA) Urdu language service. Its audience was primarily Pashto-speaking communities. Information Minister Fawad Chaudhry claimed the sites were blocked for “false and prejudiced reporting.” An intelligence source reported that the decision to block the website was triggered by VOA's coverage of PTM.[22] An article by Manzoor Pashteen in the New York Times on 12 February 2019, entitled ‘"The Military Says Pashtuns Are Traitors. We Just Want Our Rights" was censored by its local publisher in Pakistan.[23]

    Journalists covering protests have been targeted in a similar manner to participants. Sailaab Mehsud of Radio Free Europe / Radio Liberty's Mashaal radio and Zafar Wazir of a local TV channel were accused in December 2018 by police of “raising slogans against state institutions and inciting the public to violence, along with nearly 30 other people.” Authorities raised the allegations following the journalists’ presence at a rally in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province. Sailaab said he and Zafar were covering the rally as journalists.[24] In February 2019, the authorities halted the broadcasting of an interview with Manzoor Pashteen on a local Pashtu channel AVT Khyber.[25]

    International obligations

    These violations are inconsistent with Pakistan’s international obligations, including those under the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) which it ratified in 2008. These include obligations to respect and protect civil society’s fundamental rights to the freedoms of association, peaceful assembly and expression. These fundamental freedoms are also guaranteed in Pakistan’s Constitution. Further, during Pakistan’s Universal Periodic Review at the United Nations Human Rights Council in 2017, the government supported recommendations to safeguard freedom of expression, protect the right to life and freedom of expression of journalists and human rights defenders (HRDs), and to investigate all reports of attacks against them and bring perpetrators to justice. It also committed to combat all forms of discrimination, particularly against ethnic minorities.[26]

    We therefore make the following recommendations to the government of Pakistan:

    • Put an end the harassment, stigmatisation, intimidation, unlawful surveillance, travel restrictions and arrest of peaceful PTM activists and ensure that they can freely express their opinions and dissent without fear of reprisals;
    • Conduct a swift, thorough, independent and impartial investigation into the death in custody of activist Arman Loni, and ensure that those responsible for his death are brought to justice;
    • Conduct impartial, thorough and effective investigations into all cases of attacks, harassment and intimidation against HRDs and journalists and bring the perpetrators of such offences to justice;
    • Drop all charges against protesters, community activists and HRDs for exercising their right to the freedom of peaceful assembly and instruct the police that it is their duty to facilitate peaceful assemblies, rather than hinder them;
    • Take immediate steps to ensure press freedom and halt all media restrictions against coverage of the PTM;
    • Ensure that HRDs are able to carry out their legitimate activities without fear or undue hindrance, obstruction or legal and administrative harassment such as travel restrictions under the Exit Control List (ECL);
    • Take steps to make enforced disappearances and torture a criminal offence and ensure that all allegations of such acts are thoroughly investigated and those responsible brought to justice.

    We express our sincere hope that you will take these steps as a matter of priority and we hope to hear from you regarding our inquiries as soon as possible. We would be pleased to discuss these matters with you or other appropriate officials at any time.

    Sincerely,      

    David E. Kode
    CIVICUS Advocacy & Campaigns Lead

    Professor Mohamed Ismail
    Pakistan NGO Forum

    Cc:
    Diplomatic missions in Pakistan

     

    [1] ‘In Pakistan, long-suffering Pahtuns find their voice’, The New York Times, 6 February 2018, https://www.nytimes.com/2018/02/06/world/asia/pakistan-pashtun-long-march.html.


    [2] ‘Peaceful Pashtun activists face criminal cases’, Amnesty International, 19 March 2018, https://www.amnesty.org/en/documents/asa33/8079/2018/en.

    [3] ‘New Pashtun dissent meets old coercion tactics in Pakistan’, Gandhara, 26 March 2018, https://gandhara.rferl.org/a/Pakistan-pashtun-tahafuz-movement-coercion-tactics/29125095.html.

    [4] ‘Balochistan extends ban on Pashteen’s entry,’ Dawn, 3 April 2019, https://www.dawn.com/news/1473567.

    [5] ‘Civil Society condemns arrests of young activists’, The Daily Times, 27 April 2018, https://dailytimes.com.pk/232878/civil-society-condemns-arrests-of-young-activists.

    [6] ‘Over 150 PTM activists booked for sedition, terrorism’, Dawn, 11 May 2018, https://www.dawn.com/news/1406903.

    [7] ‘Islamabad police round up PTM supporters for holding anti-Taliban protest’, Pakistan Today, 9 June 2018, https://www.pakistantoday.com.pk/2018/06/09/islamabad-police-round-up-ptm-supporters-for-holding-anti-taliban-protest.

    [8] ‘ATC case against 37 PTM activists withdrawn’, The Express Tribune, 24 September 2018, https://tribune.com.pk/story/1810320/1-atc-case-37-ptm-activists-withdrawn.

    [9] ‘…meanwhile, FIR registered against PTM Bannu rally organisers’, Pakistan Today, 2 November 2018, https://www.pakistantoday.com.pk/2018/11/02/meanwhile-fir-registered-against-ptm-bannu-rally-organisers/

    [10] ‘Scores held under anti-terrorism laws in Pashtun rights rally in Pakistan’, News 18, 22 January 2019, https://www.news18.com/news/world/scores-held-under-anti-terrorism-laws-in-pashtun-rights-rally-in-pakistan-2009657.html.

    [11] ‘Pashtun rights activist Alamzeb Mehsud arrested in Pakistan’, Al Jazeera, 22 January 2019, https://www.aljazeera.com/news/2019/01/prominent-pashtun-rights-activist-arrested-pakistan-190122121631198.html and ‘PTM leaders booked under anti-terror law, one held’, Dawn, 22 January 2019, https://www.dawn.com/news/1459029

    [12] ‘Pashtun campaigners complain of hurdles,’ Gandhara, 26 April 2018, https://gandhara.rferl.org/a/pashtun-campaigners-complain-of-hurdles-ahead-of-protest-in-pakistan/29194419.html.

    [13] ‘Rights group condemns arbitrary detention of protesters in Pakistan and the police killing of activist’, CIVICUS, 8 February 2019, https://www.civicus.org/index.php/media-resources/media-releases/3720-global-rights-group-condemns-arbitrary-detention-of-pashtun-protesters-in-pakistan-and-the-police-killing-of-a-leading-activist.

    [14] ‘Killing of Mr. Ibrahim Arman Loni & arbitrary detention of Ms. Gulalai Ismail and several PTM members’, Worldwide Movement for Human Rights, 14 February 2019, https://www.fidh.org/en/issues/human-rights-defenders/pakistan-killing-of-mr-ibrahim-arman-loni-arbitrary-detention-of-ms.

    [15] ‘Case registered against Loralai police officer for Arman Loni’s death’, Dawn, 2 April 2019, https://www.dawn.com/news/1473444.

    [16] See Mohsin Dawar, 17 May 2019, https://twitter.com/mjdawar/status/1129489961378635776

    [17] ‘Abdullah Nangyal, Gulalai Ismail among dozens of PTM workers held in capital’, Pakistan Today, 5 February 2019, https://www.pakistantoday.com.pk/2019/02/05/abdullah-nangyal-gulalai-ismail-among-dozens-of-ptm-workers-held-in-capital.

    [18] ‘Prominent human rights activist briefly held by Pakistan authorities’, Voice of America, 14 October 2018, https://www.voanews.com/a/prominent-human-rights-activist-briefly-held-by-pakistan-authorities/4612861.html.

    [19] ‘Release Pashtun human rights defenders immediately and unconditionally’, Amnesty International, 12 October 2018, https://www.amnesty.org/en/latest/news/2018/10/pakistan-release-pashtun-human-rights-defender-immediately-and-unconditionally.

    [20] ‘PHC orders quashing of FIR against PTM leaders’, Dawn, 10 May 2019, https://www.dawn.com/news/1481340.

    [21] ‘Immediately and unconditionally release Muhammad Hayat Khan Preghal’, Amnesty International, 24 September 2018, https://www.amnesty.org/download/Documents/ASA3391512018ENGLISH.pdf.

    [22] ‘Pakistan Tightens Coverage of Pashtun Rights Movement’, Voice of America, 11 December 2018, https://www.voanews.com/a/pakistan-tightens-coverage-of-pashtun-nationalist-movement/4696344.html.

    [23] ‘Pakistan censors New York Times article by activist critical of military’, Straits Times, 12 February 2019, https://www.straitstimes.com/asia/south-asia/pakistan-censors-new-york-times-article-by-activist-critical-of-military.

    [24] ‘Two journalists from D.I. Khan booked for covering protest rally’, Pakistan Press Foundation, 12 December 2018, https://www.pakistanpressfoundation.org/two-journalists-from-d-i-khan-booked-for-covering-protest-rally.

    [25] See Tabinda M. Khan, 20 February 2019, https://twitter.com/tabinda_m/status/1098251413312876544

    [26] Recommendations 152.170 (Cyprus), 152.176 (Greece), 152.175 (Norway) and 152.83 (Cote d'Ivoire) in ‘Report of the Working Group on the Universal Periodic Review: Pakistan’, United Nations Human Rights Council, 29 December 2017, https://www.ohchr.org/en/hrbodies/upr/pages/pkindex.aspx.

     

  • Pakistán: la sociedad civil mundial pide la liberación inmediata de Mohammed Ismail y el cese de toda forma de acoso e intimidación

    Novedad sobre el caso a 26 de noviembre de 2019: 


    Los miembros abajo firmantes de CIVICUS, la alianza mundial de organizaciones de la sociedad civil y el Grupo de Afinidad de Asociaciones Nacionales (AGNA) exigen la liberación inmediata del profesor Mohammed Ismail de la detención preventiva en Pakistán y el cese de toda forma de acoso e intimidación y amenazas contra él y su familia.

    Mohammed Ismail es miembro desde hace tiempo de AGNA, una red de 90 asociaciones nacionales y plataformas regionales de todo el mundo. Él es el punto focal del Foro de ONG de Pakistán (PNF), un organismo que agrupa a otras organizaciones de la sociedad civil (OSC) en Pakistán. Su hija, Gulalai Ismail, es una defensora de los derechos humanos que se ha enfrentado a la persecución de las autoridades por defender los derechos de las mujeres y las niñas, y por intentar poner fin a las violaciones de los derechos humanos contra el grupo étnico pastún. Tras este episodio, se le ha concedido asilo en los Estados Unidos de América.

    En julio de 2019, en aplicación de la Ley Antiterrorista, Mohammed Ismail fue acusado de cargos en relación con el trabajo legítimo de derechos humanos de su hija, Gulalai Ismail. El 24 de octubre de 2019, fue asaltado fuera de la Corte de Peshawar por hombres vestidos con uniformes militares negros, que lo obligaron a subir a un vehículo negro. Estuvo en paradero desconocido hasta la mañana del 25 de octubre, cuando compareció, bajo la custodia de la Agencia Federal de Investigaciones de Pakistán, ante un magistrado judicial y se le acusó de cargos adicionales en virtud de la Ley de Delitos Electrónicos de Pakistán. Sigue detenido y las solicitudes de libertad bajo fianza presentadas han sido rechazadas por los tribunales.

    Además, estamos profundamente preocupados por los informes fidedignos que hemos recibido sobre las condiciones deplorables en las que se mantiene al profesor Ismail detenido, que puede considerarse como trato cruel, inhumano y degradante. Le ha sido denegada la atención médica, a pesar de tener múltiples problemas de salud, incluido un trastorno neurológico, discos dislocados en la espalda, dolores renales y altos niveles de creatinina. También se le ha negado atención médica para tratar su hipertensión.

    Antes de su detención, Mohammed Ismail y su familia habían sido objeto de actos de intimidación, incluyendo al menos tres redadas en su hogar familiar en Islamabad, así como amenazas de daños físicos a la hermana menor de Gulalai Ismail.

    Las acusaciones contra Mohammed Ismail son infundadas y parecen haber sido presentadas por las autoridades para silenciarlo a él y a Gulalai. Este acoso e intimidación judicial resaltan el ambiente hostil para los defensores de los derechos humanos, periodistas y otros actores en Pakistán que ejercen su libertad de expresión y expresan sus críticas al estado.

    Nosotros, miembros de CIVICUS y AGNA, pedimos a las autoridades de Pakistán que liberen al Profesor Ismail de forma inmediata e incondicional y pongan fin a todos los actos de acoso contra el Profesor Mohammed Ismail, Gulalai Ismail y su familia y retiren todos los cargos en su contra. También solicitamos a las autoridades que tomen medidas inmediatas para garantizar que todos los defensores de derechos humanos en Pakistán puedan llevar a cabo sus actividades legítimas sin ningún impedimento o temor a represalias.

    Signatarios
     
    Areen Abu al rob, PCS Palestine
    Ronja Ievers, Hui E! Community Aotearoa
    Sophie Kange, Uganda National NGO Forum
    Marisa Gomez Crespo, Plataforma de ONG de accion social
    Ilina Neshikj, Balkan Civil Society Development Network
    Mpho Tapela, Botswana Council of NGO’s
    Siaka Coulibaly, RESOCIDE
    Siale ILOLAHIA, PIANGO
    Kai Klandorf, Network of Estonian Non-profit Organizations
    Analia Bettoni, Instituto de Comunicación y Desarrollo
    Addys Then Marte, Alianza ONG
    Lavea Peseta. L.Nafo'i, Samoa Umbrella Non Government Organization
    Jitram Lama, NGO Federation Nepal
    Oyebisi Seyi, Nigeria Network of NGOs
    Jane Salmonson, Scotland’s International Development Alliance
    Maja Stojanovic, Civic Initiatives, Serbia
    Vertti Kiukas, SOSTE Finnish Federation for Social Affairs and Health

     

  • Pakistan: la société civile demande la libération immédiate de Mohammed Ismail et mettre fin à l'harcèlement

    Dernière nouvelle à propos du cas du professeur Mohammed Ismail: 

     


    Les membres soussignés de CIVICUS, l'Alliance mondiale des organisations de la société civile et leGroupe d'Affinité des Associations Nationales (AGNA) exigent la libération immédiate du professeur Mohammed Ismail de la détention préventive au Pakistan et mettre un terme à toutes les formes de harcèlement et d’intimidation et menaces contre lui et sa famille.

    Mohammed Ismail est, depuis longtemps, membre d'AGNA, un réseau de 90 associations nationales et plates-formes régionales du monde entier. Il est le point focal du Forum des ONG pakistanaises (PNF), une organisation qui rassemble d'autres organisations de la société civile (OSC) au Pakistan. Sa fille, Gulalai Ismail, est une défenseuse des droits humains qui a été victime de persécution par les autorités du fait de son plaidoyer en faveur des droits des femmes et des filles et de ses efforts pour mettre fin aux violations des droits humains envers le groupe ethnique pachtoun. Elle a, par la suite, obtenu l'asile aux États-Unis d'Amérique.

    En juillet 2019, Mohammed Ismail a été accusé d'infractions à la Loi Antiterroriste par rapport au travail légitime de sa fille, Gulalai Ismail, en faveur des droits humains. Le 24 octobre 2019, il a été abordé devant le tribunal de Peshawar par des hommes vêtus d'uniformes militaires noirs, qui l'ont forcé à monter dans un véhicule noir. Il reste porté disparu jusqu'au matin du 25 octobre, lorsqu’il a comparu devant un magistrat judiciaire, sous la garde de l'Agence Fédérale d'Investigation du Pakistan, et a été inculpé de nouvelles accusations en vertu de la loi sur la criminalité électronique au Pakistan. Il est toujours en détention et les demandes de libération sous caution déposées ont été rejetées par les tribunaux.

    En outre, nous sommes profondément préoccupés par les rapports fiables reçus au sujet des conditions épouvantables dans lesquelles le professeur Ismail est placé en détention, qui peuvent être considérées comme des traitements cruel, inhumains et dégradants. Il a été privé de soins médicaux malgré ses multiples problèmes de santé, notamment un trouble neurologique, des disques disloqués au dos, des douleurs aux reins et des taux élevés de créatinine. On lui a également refusé des soins médicaux pour traiter son hypertension.

    Avant sa détention, Mohammed Ismail et sa famille avaient été victimes d'intimidations pendant des mois, y compris au moins trois rafles dans leur maison familiale à Islamabad, ainsi que de menaces de blessures physiques à la jeune sœur de Gulalai Ismail.

    Les accusations portées contre Mohammed Ismail ne sont pas fondées et semblent avoir été présentées par les autorités pour le faire taire et aussi museler Gulalai. Ce harcèlement et cette intimidation judiciaire mettent en évidence le climat hostile où des défenseurs des droits humains, des journalistes et d'autres acteurs au Pakistan exercent leur liberté d'expression et expriment leurs critiques à l'égard de l'État.

    Nous, les membres de CIVICUS et de l'AGNA, exhortons les autorités pakistanaises à libérer le professeur Ismail immédiatement et sans condition, à mettre un terme aux actes de harcèlement à l'encontre du professeur Mohammed Ismail, de Gulalai Ismail et de leur famille, et de retirer toutes les charges portées contre eux. Nous demandons également aux autorités à prendre des mesures immédiates pour veiller à ce que tous les défenseurs des droits de l'homme au Pakistan puissent mener leurs activités légitimes sans aucune entrave ni crainte de représailles.

    Signatures
    Areen Abu al rob, PCS Palestine
    Ronja Ievers, Hui E! Community Aotearoa
    Sophie Kange, Uganda National NGO Forum
    Marisa Gomez Crespo, Plataforma de ONG de accion social
    Ilina Neshikj, Balkan Civil Society Development Network
    Mpho Tapela, Botswana Council of NGO’s
    Siaka Coulibaly, RESOCIDE
    Siale ILOLAHIA, PIANGO
    Kai Klandorf, Network of Estonian Non-profit Organizations
    Analia Bettoni, Instituto de Comunicación y Desarrollo
    Addys Then Marte, Alianza ONG
    Lavea Peseta. L.Nafo'i, Samoa Umbrella Non Government Organization
    Jitram Lama, NGO Federation Nepal
    Oyebisi Seyi, Nigeria Network of NGOs
    Jane Salmonson, Scotland’s International Development Alliance
    Maja Stojanovic, Civic Initiatives, Serbia
    Vertti Kiukas, SOSTE Finnish Federation for Social Affairs and Health
     

     

  • Pakistan: Release activists from Pashtun movement

    To: Dr Shireen M Mazari, Federal Minister for Human Rights Ministry of Human Rights
    Re: Concerns regarding arrests of Pashtun activists and supporters

    Your Excellency,

    CIVICUS: World Alliance for Citizen Participation is a global alliance of civil society organisations (CSOs) and activists dedicated to strengthening citizen action and civil society around the world. Founded in 1993, CIVICUS has 8,000 members in more than 170 countries.

    We are writing to you to express our serious concerns over the arbitrary arrests of activists from the Pashtun Tahafuz Movement (PTM) over the last week. On 27 January 2020, PTM leader and activist Manzoor Pashteen was arbitrarily arrested in Peshawar for criticising government policies based on a speech he gave on 18 January in Bannu. He was charged under Sections 506 (punishment for criminal intimidation), 153-A (promoting enmity between different groups), 120-B (punishment of criminal conspiracy), 124 (sedition), and 123-A (condemning the creation of the country and advocating the abolishment of its sovereignty) of the Pakistan Penal Code. A court denied Pashteen bail and sent him to jail on a 14-day judicial remand in Dera Ismail Khan district. 

    On 28 January 2020, while holding a peaceful protest outside Islamabad’s National Press Club against the arbitrary arrest of Pashteen, PTM leader and lawmaker Mohsin Dawar was taken into custody with 28 other individuals. Those arrested include PTM activists, Awami Workers Party members and civil society activists, including three women. Six have been released including Mohsin Dawar but 23 have been charged and sent to Adiala jail on judicial remand. They have been reportedly charged under Sections 188 (disobedience against an order duly promulgated by a public servant), 353 (assault on a public servant), 147 (rioting), 149 (being members of an unlawful assembly), 505-A (defaming the army), 505-B (public mischief), 124-A (sedition), 341 (punishment for wrongful restraint), 186 (obstructing a public servant) of the Pakistan Penal Code.

    CIVICUS has also received information that Mohsin Abdali, a young student activist from Lahore, was detained by unidentified men believed to be security officials at 4am on the morning of 30 January and released later in the evening. He had been involved in a demonstration against the arrest of PTM protesters and supporters in Islamabad.

    CIVICUS has had longstanding concerns about similar human rights violations against the ethnic Pashtun people and in particular the PTM, which in recent years has mobilised nationwide against abuses targeting the ethnic Pashtun people. We have previously raised these concerns in a letter to your office in May 2019 which highlighted the judicial harassment of PTM activists, arbitrary arrest of protesters and disruption of protests, the unlawful killing of a PTM leader Arman Loni, and restrictions on media coverage.

    These arrests are inconsistent with Pakistan’s international obligations, including those under the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) which Pakistan ratified in 2008. These include obligations to respect and protect civil society’s fundamental rights to the freedoms of association, peaceful assembly and expression. These fundamental freedoms are also guaranteed in Pakistan’s Constitution.

    As such, we urge Pakistan authorities to take the following steps as a matter of priority:

    • Release all PTM activists and supporters arrested for exercising their right to freedom of expression and peaceful assembly and drop all charges against them; 
    • Investigate the abduction of activist Mohsin Abdali and take steps to bring the perpetrators to justice; 
    • End the arrest, harassment, and intimidation of PTM activists and their supporters and ensure that they
      can freely express their opinions and dissent without fear of reprisals.
      We express our sincere hope that you will take these steps to address the human rights violations highlighted above, and we are available for further discussion.

    We express our sincere hope that you will take these steps to address the human rights violations highlighted above, and we are available for further discussion.

     

  • Pakistan: Rights group calls for release of activist Professor Muhammad Ismail ahead of bail hearing

    • Rights groups call for release of Professor Ismail ahead of bail hearing on 5 March
    • March 2 marks one month in detention for human rights defender Professor Ismail
    • Police evidence questioned by Pakistan National Assembly's Human Rights Committee

     

  • Pakistan: Rights group calls for release of activist Professor Muhammad Ismail following bail rejection

    • Anti-terrorism court refuses bail to Professor Muhammad Ismail despite his fragile post-COVID health 
    • Professor Ismail and family persecuted due to human rights work in Pakistan
    • Ismail added to #StandAsMyWitness campaign calling for release of imprisoned activists 

     

  • Pakistani authorities must prevent further attacks on transgender people

    The shooting of a transgender activist one month ago, and a recent wave of attacks against the transgender community in Pakistan, are extremely concerning, according to global civil society alliance CIVICUS. We urge the authorities in Pakistan to organise prompt and impartial investigations into the attacks, and make sure the perpetrators are brought to justice without delay. 

     

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