HRCP concerned at economic situation, political polarisation – 01 May 2023

LAHORE: The Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP) expressed serious concern on Sunday regarding the dire economic situation in the country, the purported increase in child labor and exploitative practices, and reports of suicides allegedly linked to poverty.

The HRCP, in a statement issued on Sunday, emphasized the urgent need for land reforms to address economic inequality and expresses alarm at the growth of high-income housing societies, which leads to the depletion of agricultural land and poses a risk of rising food insecurity.

The commission strongly believes that the increasing political polarization has undermined parliamentary supremacy.

Concerns over the census andallegations of under-counting must also be addressed, as they have implications for the delimitation of electoral constituencies.

Local governments need to be made more effective in all provinces to protect people`s rights.

The HRCP also demands greater judicial accountability and transparency in the appointment of judges.

Unseasonal rains and the growing possibility of floods in Sindh and Balochistan are causes for alarm. Efforts should be made to rehabilitate those displaced by earlier floods in areas that are not vulnerable to further natural disasters.

The HRCP is also alarmed by the deteriorating law and order situation in northern Sindh and southern Punjab, including the increase in dacolties and kidnappings, as well as reports of the growing presence of militants in Gilgit-Baltistan andKohistan.

The state must make a concertedeffort toprotectthe rights of vulnerable groups, including Afghan refugees settled in makeshift camps in Islamabad. The long-standing demand for compensation for people displaced by the 2010 Attabad disaster and the Kargil war in Gilgit-Baltistan must be addressed, and every effort should be made to repatriate Pakistani fisherfolk incarcerated in Indian jails. The HRCP is also concerned about the ongoing legal challenges against the Transgender Persons (Protection of Rights) Act 2018.

The HRCP is especially concerned about the situation of religious minorities, who continue to face discrimination and violence.

The bill criminalizing forced conversions, currently with the Sindh government, should be passed without further delay.

The implementation of the SindhStudents Union Act must also be expedited.

The continued use of Schedule IV of the Anti-Terrorism Act of 1997 to harass human rights defenders, political dissidents, and journalists in Gilgit-Baltistan must stop. Additionally, the journalists` safety commission established under the Protection of Journalists and Media Professionals Act 2021 should be made operational.

The HRCP reiterates its dissatisfaction with the Commission of Inquiry on Enforced Disappearances, as the perpetrators of enforced disappearances have not been held accountable.

Transparency is also needed regarding the allocation of resources to the newly merged districts in KP, as there are reports of unfulfilled allocations.

Moreover, concerted efforts should be made to remove landmines in KP.

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