Thursday, February 24, 2011

PAKISTAN: Council urged to tackle endemic torture and impunity, or become irrelevant

A written statement submitted by the Asian Legal Resource Centre (ALRC), a non-governmental organisation with general consultative status 
ALRC, Feb 24, 2011

The Asian Legal Resource Centre (ALRC) wishes to again bring the Human Rights Council’s attention to the widespread and endemic nature of the use of torture in Pakistan. The ALRC has raised this issue repeatedly with the HRC and the Commission on Human Rights before it, as well as the Special Procedures and the UPR process. International action concerning grave human rights abuses in Pakistan, including torture, forced disappearance and the like, remains elusive.

The recent situation in Egypt, in which violations of human rights perpetrated over prolonged periods have led to a historic popular uprising to overthrow the system of abuse, must bear lessons for the international community. No longer can the members of the Human Rights Council expect to continue with business as usual, trading in the rights of their citizens as expendable commodities to be haggled away for political gain as part of a diplomatic game in Geneva. As the battle to advance the enjoyment of human rights and democracy plays out on the streets of Tunisia, Egypt and elsewhere, will the Human Rights Council find itself increasingly out of touch and isolated from a reality that demands progress and tangible change?

As the 2011 review of the Human Rights Council reaches its culmination, member-States must re-consider their misconstrued approaches that seek to limit the capacity of the international system to fulfil its role in upholding rights on the ground. The HRC must be able to go beyond the ritual expression of concern at flashpoint crises around the globe, which typically remain either too timid or go unheeded, and begin to tackle the fundamental components of the systems of human rights abuses that pervade the world. The fact that members of the HRC, such as Pakistan, can hold membership in the world’s apex rights body while endemic torture persists within their borders, shows how much progress is still required.

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