Religious Minorities in Pakistan Need More Protection
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After recent spate of attacks/killings of Shia Muslims and over last several years assessed deteriorating state of religious minorities in Pakistan, 3 UN human rights experts in minority rights, freedom of religion and belief, and extrajudicial executions sought more. They urged the Government of Pakistan to respond decisively to end the sectarian violence and improve the security of religious minorities, following the second group targeted killing in the space of two weeks. (While Christians and other religious minorities have faced increasing pressure from intolerant Muslim fundamentalists, Shia Muslims have been most frequently victims of brutal violence).
Affirmative Obligation by Pakistan Government;
“These killings (February 28, 2012 execution of innocent Shia civilians by gunmen) are extremely shocking and constitute acts that require the strongest response. They have sadly become a recurrent practice in Pakistan, and we urge the Pakistan Government to identify and prosecute the perpetrators and do everything possible to establish strengthened security measures,” according to the UN Independent Expert on minority issues, Rita Izsák
“These targeted killings once more display the appalling degree of religious hatred in a country where there seems to be a failure to protect the security of religious minorities”, stated Heiner Bielefeldt, Special Rapporteur on freedom of religion or belief.
Christof Heyns, Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions stressed in this regard that the Government has a positive obligation to take all necessary measures to protect the right to life, including in cases of crimes committed by private actors. “Failure to take appropriate steps to prevent, investigate and punish for such acts is a violation of Article 6 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.”
Welcoming Prime Minister's Condemnation:
The three welcomed the condemnation expressed by the Prime Minister, Yousuf Raza Gilani and stated that, “such serious incidents demand, and communities have the right to expect, the most rigorous response possible from the Government.” Consequently, they urged the Pakistani Government to step up its security efforts in the face of the clear and present threat faced by certain groups on the basis of their religion.
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Rita Izsák was appointed as Independent Expert on minority issues by the Human Rights Council in June 2011. As Independent Expert, she is independent from any government or organization and serves in her individual capacity. Learn more: www2.ohchr.org/english/issues/minorities/expert/index.htm
Heiner Bielefeldt is Professor of Human Rights and Human Rights Politics at the University of Erlangen-Nürnberg. From 2003 to 2009, he was Director of Germany’s National Human Rights Institution. Mr. Bielefeldt’s research interests include various interdisciplinary facets of human rights theory and practice, with a focus on freedom of religion or belief. Log on to: www2.ohchr.org/english/issues/religion/
Christof Heyns is Dean and Professor of Human Rights Law at the University of Pretoria, where he has also directed the Centre for Human Rights, and has engaged in wide-reaching initiatives on human rights in Africa. He has advised a number of international, regional and national entities on human rights issues. Learn more: www.ohchr.org/EN/Issues/Executions/Pages/SRExecutionsIndex.aspx
Link to UN Human Rights, country page – Pakistan: www.ohchr.org/EN/Countries/AsiaRegion/Pages/PKIndex.aspx