The Asian Human Rights Commission wishes to announce that a report on the situation of the human rights defenders of Balochistan has been uploaded on our website. This report was compiled by Ms. Angelika Pathak, a London-based researcher who previously worked for Amnesty International as their Pakistan researcher. According to Ms. Pathak the report is divided in five parts: – An introduction which explains the special protection under which human rights defenders were placed when in December 1998 the General Assembly (including Pakistan) adopted the UN Declaration on Human Rights Defenders, the first UN instrument that explicitly recognizes the importance and legitimacy of the work of human rights defenders and lays down their right to effective protection; in Balochistan many political activists could be understood as in some sense defending the rights of the Baloch but in the narrower sense the term is applicable only to journalists, lawyers and human rights activist. Attacks on newspapers, electronic media and abuses of individual journalist; – Human rights abuses inflicted on lawyers – Human rights abuses inflicted on human rights activists – Recommendations to the federal government and the provincial government. The executive summary of the report is given below and the full report may be seen at: http://www.humanrights.asia/news/press-releases/pdf/AHRC-PRL-035-2011-01.pdf
Human rights defenders, i.e. persons who uncover human rights violations, bring them to public knowledge and campaign for redress for victims through peaceful and non-violent means, were in December 1998 placed been under the special protection of the international community when the General Assembly adopted the UN Declaration on Human Rights Defenders. It was the first UN instrument that explicitly recognizes the importance and legitimacy of the work of human rights defenders and lays down their right to effective protection. This commitment has not been honoured in Balochistan. Human rights defenders – be they journalists investigating and documenting wrongdoings of state agents, lawyers representing victims of human rights abuses in court or human rights activists campaigning to end human rights violations – have been subjected to a range of human rights violations themselves. They have been harassed, arbitrarily arrested and detained, subjected to enforced disappearance, torture and extrajudicial killings. Contrary to the spirit of the UN Declaration on Human Rights Defenders, state agents have committed such violations at a recently increased rate, and with impunity. This crackdown on human rights defenders has happened at a time when human rights violations are reported from Balochistan at an ever increasing rate, making the role of human rights defenders in supporting victims, campaigning for legal redress for abuses and working to end abuses more essential than ever.
Human rights defenders have also been subjected to targeted killings by non-state actors, groups and individuals who opposed their work. While these are crimes in domestic law, under international human rights law the state also bears responsibility if it does not exercise due diligence, that is, if it fails to prevent such abuses or to ensure that the perpetrators are brought to justice.