A humble reminder to Pakistan and recommending countries about the UPR recommendations

In October 2012, the second time, the state of human rights [including the rights of minorities, labourers, women and children] in Pakistan was reviewed in the second cycle of the Universal Periodic Review (UPR) by the Working Group in the Human Rights Council in Geneva. Then the Federal Minister for Foreign Affairs represented Pakistan along with a delegation of 14 members and responded to concerns, issues and questions raised by the member countries of the HRC. As per para 6 of the resolution (A/HRC/RES/16/21), in the second cycle of the UPR, Pakistan had to focus on the implementation of the accepted recommendations and the developments of the human rights situation in the country.

In comparison to the first UPR of Pakistan (2008), the second UPR (2012) was somehow discussed across the country and the world. There were 22 individual and 15 joint submissions in April 2012. However, there was extremely poor follow up by civil society organizations (CSOs) on the implementation of the recommendations in the first UPR of Pakistan (2008). Not only CSOs but Pakistan and all the recommending countries had forgotten about a long list of accepted recommendations by Pakistan.

On March 14th 2013, in the 22nd session of the HRC, Pakistan’s report was considered and adopted. The report adopted by the Working Group (also known as outcome document) contains details of recommendations accepted, noted and rejected by Pakistan. Pakistan received total 166 recommendations by various States during its review. Pakistan out rightly rejected one recommendation and agreed to respond on remaining 165 by 14th March 2013.

In the 22nd session, during the adoption of the UPR report, Pakistan in its statement said that out of 165 recommendations, 126 enjoy the support of Pakistan. And, of the 126 recommendations, 73 have either already been implemented or are in the process of implementation. Of the total 165 recommendations, 34 have been noted which means these “recommendations have not been rejected as such, but the due process of consultations on them has not been completed on time.” Therefore, Pakistan in the 22nd session said that it will continue deliberations on noted recommendations. There were also seven other recommendations that Pakistan did not accept which pertained to the repeal of blasphemy laws and the abolition of the death penalty. In paragraph 12, Pakistan’s statement in the said session, says that “We recognize the fact that no country can embark upon the path to prosperity without ensuring universal education to its future generation. Therefore, Pakistan enacted the ICT Free and Compulsory Education Act 2012 in December last to provide free and compulsory education to all children”. After the lapse of more than 10 months, Pakistan has not notified the date of its enforcement at Islamabad level, it shows how serious the government of Pakistan is about the enactment of the right to education. Pakistan’s most of the answers to all questions were associated with the enactment of the National Commission for Human Rights Act 2012, but to date, neither the Commission has been established nor the Chairperson and members of the Commission have been appointed.

Sadly majority of the countries gave very generic recommendations, and follow up of those generic recommendations seems extremely difficult job. Interestingly, Pakistan has accepted all those recommendations which are generic but has only noted or rejected most of those which are specific about certain issues, for instance, ratification of the International Convention for the Protection of All persons from Enforced Disappearance.

After the adaption of the UPR document, the government of Pakistan, CSOs and those countries whose recommendations have been noted and accepted are still silent; neither there are any follow ups from anywhere with the government for the implementation of those recommendations nor the government and its relevant departments have chalked out any plan of actions for the implementation of those recommendations.

The Institute for Social Justice (ISJ) fears that it may be the case that all the stakeholders are silent until the Office of High Commissioner for Human Rights is calling reports from the NGOs, UN agencies and government in 2016 for Pakistan’s third time UPR in 2017.

The ISJ calls/requests all the stakeholders to come forward for the implementation of the UPR recommendations in Pakistan rather recalling those recommendations in the 3rd UPR cycle in 2017.

This is time for all the stakeholders to act so that the government of Pakistan has ample evidence to show to the international community that it has made progress against the recommendations given to it in October 2012.

Following are some suggestions/requests to/for the stakeholders:

A- Government of Pakistan
1) Establish the UPR Monitoring and Implementation Cell within the Prime Minister Secretariat, the Prime Minister should head of the Cell
2) Every fiscal year, allocate maximum budgets for the smooth working of the Cell;
3) Prepare a comprehensive plan of actions at national and provincial levels for the implementation of the recommendations;
4) After every six months, plan of actions should be reviewed and changes should be made accordingly;
5) Publish the UPR outcome document in English and Urdu; also publish child friendly version of the UPR outcome document; then disseminate these publications amongst all the relevant stakeholders including children.
6) Organize national and provincial consultations in Islamabad and provincial headquarters;
7) Organize seminars about the significance of the UPR in every school, college, university, police, prison and judicial academies/colleges and libraries;
8) Launch mass media campaign as well as observe special day on the UPR

B- Civil society organizations
1) Allocate special budgets for the UPR activities and nominate/designate special human resource for the follow up of the relevant recommendations;
2) Support the federal, provincial and districts in publishing documents and organizing seminars and consultations;
3) Regularly follow up with the government of Pakistan and the relevant embassies
4) Constitute special delegations to meet with the PM and the ambassadors in the country for reminding them about the UPR recommendations;
5) Send letters to all the relevant embassies in Pakistan and in Geneva about their role in reminding Pakistan about its UPR commitments; 
6) The media should organize special talk shows;

C- Relevant embassies and countries in Pakistan and in Geneva
1) Follow up with Pakistan in their bi-lateral talks; ensure that their recommendations are duly considered and implemented;
2) Write letters to the PM of Pakistan and reminding him about the UPR recommendations;
3) Support CSOs for launch massive campaigns for awareness on the UPR and implementation of the recommendations.

Please check at UPR Recommendations by countries to Pakistan (October 2012) and their status.