PR No. 171 Islamabad: April 19, 2017

Pakistan has successfully defended its Initial Report on Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment submitted to the United Nations Committee against Torture (CAT) during the Committee’s 60th session held in Geneva on 18 and 19 April, 2017.

The Committee comprised of independent experts and monitors reviewed Pakistan’s report and showed its satisfaction over the implementation of the various provisions of the Convention.

The United Nations Committee Against Torture (CAT) raised questions about the endeavors taken by Pakistan against torture and other inhuman punishments in its first review of implementation in Pakistan of the Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment.

The state delegation led by Senator Kamran Michael, Federal minister for human rights, who was joined by Special Assistant to the Prime Minister for Human Rights Barrister Zafarullah Khan, Ms. Rabiya Javeri Agha, Secretay, Ministry of Human Rights and other officials from the Foreign Service responded satisfactorily to questions raised by the experts of the committee.

State delegation informed the Committee that this Report has been prepared through an inclusive, participatory and consultative process, in which federal and provincial departments as well as all stakeholders, including civil society organizations and NGOs were involved.

Addressing the session, Kamran Michael has said for Pakistan the commitment to promote and protect human rights in accordance with our international obligations is a national priority. As a progressive, free and democratic country, we openly acknowledge the challenges we face in the context of prohibition of torture adding that all out efforts have been made to overcome these challenges.

He said the implementation of any Convention is an ongoing process. In the context of Pakistan, the Government has made endeavors to implement the Convention as well as report to the Committee.

Michael said the Constitution of Pakistan had prohibited the use of torture and said the state recognized that torture was an outmoded practice that violated human dignity. “Pakistan continues to uphold provisions of the UN Convention and committed to the protection of human rights precedes the ratification of the UN Charter, he added.”

Michael said we believe that torture is an abhorrent practice which violates human rights and fundamental freedoms and negates principle of human dignity. “Over the years, we, in Pakistan have made efforts to prohibit torture in all its forms. As a State Party to Convention against Torture, Pakistan continues to uphold and make efforts to implement the provisions of the Convention”, he added.

Minister for Human Rights, Kamran Michael said the Government of Pakistan has taken scores of administrative and policy measures to ensure that all our citizens enjoy human rights and are protected from torture. In this context, Pakistan has launched the historic National Action Plan on Human Rights in February 2016 after extensive consultations with all stakeholders including the civil society, he said. He told the committee that the comprehensive national Action Plan covers all human rights dimensions including Policy, Legal Reforms; Access to Justice; Implement Key Human Rights priorities; International/UN Treaty implementation; Establish and strengthen national human rights institutions; and Implement and Monitor mechanism for the Action Plan.

A National Commission on Human Rights (NCHR) has been established by an Act of the Parliament and made functional since May 2015.  The National Commission on the Status of Women (NCSW) has been given suo moto powers to take action against cases of all human rights violations in the country, he further added.

He said In addition, the Parliament has been very active in adopting legislation to address issues of violence and discrimination against women. For instance in October 2016, Anti-Rape (Criminal Laws Amendment) Bill and Anti-Honour Killings (Criminal Laws Amendment) Bill was passed by the Parliament. The Government has taken several policy and administrative measures to implement these laws, he further shared with the Committee.

He told the committee that number of programs have been initiated by Government to raise awareness regarding the prohibition of torture adding that free and vibrant media and active civil society also continues to play an important role in raising awareness, he said.

State delegation successfully responded to the questions and observations of distinguished Experts of the Committee.