KARACHI - Human rights activists on Wednesday called upon the government to take steps to improve human and labour rights situation by containing extrajudicial killings and fake police encounters and enforced disappearance of political workers and rights activists.

Addressing a joint press conference at Karachi Press Club (KPC), the rights’ activists said that the European Union under the second review of Generalised System of Preferences (GSP) – Plus had presented its second review report in the European Parliament, which would discuss it soon.

“This is a right time to stop violation of human rights,” said Karamat Ali, Executive Director of Pakistan Institute of Labour Education and Research (PILER) flanked by Habibuddin Junaidi, Convener of Sindh Labour Solidarity Committee, Asad Iqbal Butt of Human Rights Commission of Pakistan, Mahnaz Rahman, Resident Director of Aurat Foundation, Liaquat Sahi of Democratic Union of State Bank of Pakistan, Nasir Mansoor of National Trade Union Federation.

Karamat Ali said that the European Union would soon start the discussion on review report of Pakistan. In 2017 PILER’s representatives visited the EU headquarters in Brussels and lobbied with the EU parliamentarians and apprised them of the rights situation in Pakistan. These visits were not organised by Clean Clothes Campaign of the Europe. A separate delegation of the government of Pakistan had also visited Brussels led by Commerce Minister to brief the EU authorities about the compliance.

“We think there is a lot of room for improvement in human rights and labour rights situation in Pakistan, particularly, the last year was very worrisome for rights activists in which on one hand, the government started adopting coercive policies to undermine the non-government organizations and international NGOs working in Pakistan on the pretext to regulate them. On the other hand, the cases of enforced disappearances of civil society activists were intensified,” said Karamat Ali.

He further added that the 2018 review report has also identified increase in violations of human rights in Pakistan. In the human rights section, the current report states: There are a number of areas where the situation remains unchanged or where there are worrying developments. Only limited action has been taken to address the long-standing issue of enforced disappearances and extrajudicial killings. Likewise, the government has not taken effective action to address the widespread use of torture, told Karamat.

He said that the application of the death penalty and executions remain a grave concern, while a review of the crimes carrying the death penalty would be a welcome step in the right direction.

Talking about the legislation to eliminate Labour reservations, he referred 8 Core Labour Standards of the International Labour Oganisation (ILO) report said that provincial government is still delaying labour legislations despite of the total transfer of power from federal government to provinces after passage of 18th Amendment in Constitution. He said that pace for adoption of legislation and development of procedures and guidelines to implement the ILO fundamental conventions is slow. “Implementation and enforcement of laws and regulations continue to be a problem, although some provinces have stepped up efforts to improve enforcement.

 

 Further efforts are needed to improve the labour inspection system and overall working conditions,” he concluded.