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U.S. Department of State
Released by the Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor,
April 8, 2011
Poor prison conditions, instances of arbitrary detention, lengthy pretrial detentions, a weak criminal justice system, insufficient training for prosecutors and criminal investigators, a lack of judicial independence in the lower courts, and infringements on citizens’ privacy remained problems. Harassment of journalists, some censorship, and self-censorship were problems. There were some restrictions on freedom of assembly. Corruption was widespread within the government and lower levels of the police forces, and the government made few attempts to combat the problem. Rape, domestic violence, sexual harassment, honor crimes, abuse, and discrimination against women remained serious problems. Religious freedom violations, as well as violence and discrimination against religious minorities continued. Child abuse and exploitive child labor were problems. Widespread human trafficking, including exploitation of bonded laborers by land owners; forced child labor; and commercial sexual exploitation of children remained problems, as did lack of respect for worker rights.
RESPECT FOR HUMAN RIGHTS
c. Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman, or Degrading Treatment or Punishment
Prison and Detention Center Conditions
Prison conditions were often extremely poor and failed to meet international standards. Overcrowding was common, except for the cells of wealthy or influential prisoners. Prisons and detention centers were largely managed by the provincial governments. Human rights groups that surveyed prison conditions found sexual abuse, torture, and prolonged detention prevalent. Prisons in could not be classified as correctional institutions, because the conditions in many of the prisons are so inhumane that criminals often leave more hardened than before their arrest.
Inadequate food and medical care in prisons led to chronic health problems and malnutrition for those unable to supplement their diet with help from family or friends. In many facilities provisions for sanitation, ventilation, temperature, lighting, and access to potable water were inadequate.
d. Arbitrary Arrest or Detention
Role of the Police and Security Apparatus
e. Denial of Fair Public Trial
The law provides for an independent judiciary; in practice the judiciary was often subject to external influences, such as fear of reprisal in terrorism cases. In nonpolitical cases, the media and the public generally considered the high court and the Supreme Court credible.
There were extensive case backlogs in the lower and superior courts, as well as other problems that undermined the right to effective remedy and the right to a fair and public hearing. According to the Law and Justice Commission of Pakistan, as of May more than 1.1 million cases were pending with the country’s lower courts, 150,000 cases awaited the four provincial high courts, and 17,500 cases awaited the Supreme Court. Delays in justice in civil and criminal cases arose due to antiquated procedural rules, weak case management systems, costly litigation to keep a case moving in the system, and weak legal education.
……Lower courts remained corrupt, inefficient, and subject to pressure from prominent wealthy, religious, and political figures. The politicized nature of judicial promotions increased the government’s control over the court system. Unfilled judgeships and inefficient court procedures continued to result in severe backlogs at both the trial and appellate levels.……
During the year an Ahmadi man, Iqbal, was acquitted of charges of blasphemy after spending six years in prison. NGOs reported that bail was sometimes denied in blasphemy cases under the premise that, because defendants faced the death penalty, they were likely to flee.
b. Freedom of Peaceful Assembly and Association
The law provides for freedom of assembly and freedom of association, subject to restrictions imposed by law.
Freedom of Assembly
Although the constitution provides for this right, in practice the government placed selective restrictions on the right to assemble. By law district authorities can prevent gatherings of more than four persons without police authorization. Under the criminal procedure code, the government can place a ban on all kinds of rallies and processions, except funeral processions, based on security considerations.
……Ahmadis also were prohibited from holding conferences or gatherings.
c. Freedom of Religion
For a complete description of religious freedom, please see the 2010 International Religious Freedom Report.
d. Freedom of Movement, Internally Displaced Persons, Protection of Refugees, and Stateless Persons
The law provides for freedom of movement within the country, and for uninhibited foreign travel, emigration, and repatriation; the government limited these rights in practice.……
Internally Displaced Persons
The government does not have laws to protect IDPs, but implemented policies to assist them, meeting some of the UN Guiding Principles on Internal Displacement. The National Database and Registration Authority (NADRA) registered most IDPs and provided them with identity cards in 2009 and early 2010. Registration of women and Ahmadis continued to be a problem.… As Ahmadis are not recognized as Muslims in the country, they must declare themselves to be non-Muslim in order to receive a NADRA identity card. For this reason many Ahmadis refused to register.……
Section 3 Respect for Political Rights: The Right of Citizens to Change Their Government
Elections and Political Participation
The 18th amendment to the constitution that passed in April reserved four seats to the Senate for religious minorities. There were 10 religious minority members in reserved seats in the National Assembly, and one served in the cabinet as the federal minister of minorities. Such seats were apportioned to parties based on the percentage of seats each won in the assembly. Under the law minorities held 23 reserved seats in the provincial assemblies: eight in Punjab; nine in Sindh; three in the KP; and three in Balochistan.
Section 6 Discrimination, Societal Abuses, and Trafficking in Persons
The constitution provides for equality for all citizens and broadly prohibits discrimination based on race, religion, caste, residence, or place of birth; in practice there was significant discrimination based on each of these factors.