Pakistan: Stop attacks on human rights advocates and NGO workers

FEBRUARY 6, 2013 UPDATE: The Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP) provincial government has pledged monetary compensation (300,000 PKR) and one government job to each of the seven victims’ families in Swabi.  While this falls short of our demands, it will be a great benefit to the families, as the victims’ NGO jobs were often the families’ main source of income.  Additionally, the fact that the government responded to the civil society organizations at all, which is fairly uncommon, is encouraging. In response to the government, local groups are calling for increased compensation to all of the murdered human rights advocates and NGO worker’s families (2,000,000 PKR), and re-iterated that all such cases be properly investigated and the perpetrators be brought to justice. Equality Now has also sent our Urgent Alert to the UN Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights defenders in Geneva.

Please continue to mount pressure on the Pakistani government to protect human rights defenders, ensure justice for targeted activists, prevent future violence and end the culture of impunity for crimes against women.

Equality Now has just issued an Alert calling on the Government of Pakistan to heed the call of Pakistani civil society groups to protect human rights defenders, ensure justice for targeted activists, and prevent future violence, including by guaranteeing and promoting women’s right to equality.

We are deeply concerned about the continuing attacks and threats against activists and NGO workers in Pakistan. Women, and those working to promote the rights of women and girls, have been particularly targeted by some of the attacks. Just in the past four months, at least 20 activists and NGO workers have been killed, and many injured – including 15-year-old Malala Yousafzai, an activist advocating for access to education for girls.

Despite the increasing attacks, neither the provincial nor federal governments appear to have taken any steps to prevent or punish these murders and attacks, although security is now reportedly being provided to safeguard those renewing the vaccination program. Civil Society organizations working in KP and FATA, including the Pakhtunkhwa Civil Society Network (PCSN) and Tribal NGOs Consortium (TNC) coalitions, as well as End Violence against Women and Girls (EVAW/G) Alliance KP & FATA, have condemned the recent attacks and reiterated their call for the protection of human rights defenders and justice for those who have been murdered.

Equality Now and our partners are calling on Pakistani authorities to:

  • Amend the Pakistan Penal Code and the Criminal Procedure Code to make it a specific criminal offence to intimidate, harass, threaten, attack or injure any individual because of their human rights or NGO work;
  • take immediate measures to end the culture of impunity for crimes against women, including by:
    • repealing or revising laws, policies and practices – both written and unwritten – that deny women’s equality and rights;
    • bringing to justice perpetrators of violence and discrimination against women and those who collude with them; and
    • taking legislative, educational and other appropriate measures to address the culture of silence and victim-blaming that increases the vulnerability of women to violence, results in the violation of their rights and impedes their enjoyment of full and equal citizenship.

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