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ICC Note:

Pakistan has a lot of work to do in improving its own record on human rights, especially in the area of religious freedom, before it should even think about applying for a seat on the UN Human Rights Council.

AsiaNews (04/28/06) – The National Commission for Justice and Peace (NCJP), an agency of the Catholic Church of Pakistan, has criticised the government of Pakistan failing to respect the universal and constitutional rights of its citizens even though it is applying for a seat on the United Nations Human Rights Council.

“The government has applied to join the Human Rights Council that is being set up this summer by the United Nations. However, by providing insufficient and vague pledges on April 25, 2006— supposedly to protect and promote human rights in the country and internationally—the government has placed a national interest at risk,” said Mgr Lawrence Saldanha, archbishop of Lahore and NCJP chairman, in a press release.

“Such pledges reflect an attitude of non-committal towards human rights because Pakistan itself has not signed important human rights treaties such as the UN Convention against Torture or the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights,” the note, co-signed by NCJP secretary Peter Jakob, said.

In addition, “ Pakistan ’s conditional endorsement of the UN Convention on the Elimination of all forms of Discrimination against Women and the Convention on the Rights of Child [. . .] jeopardises the rights of the people.”

The NCJP therefore has called on the government to improve its credibility by making sound and reliable pledges as it submits its candidacy to the international body.

“Since we want our country to do its best, we demand the [. . .] government [. . .] form independent and credible national human rights institutions including a Commission on Human Rights and Minorities,” the press release stressed.

Islamabad “should also sign and ratify the aforementioned conventions as well as eight conventions of the International Labour Organisation, [. . .] and invite the UN to send a Special Rapporteur to assess and publish regular reports on the country’s human rights situation.”

The note ends saying that “together with other human rights organisations in Pakistan and Forum Asia, a regional civil society organisation, the NCJP is monitoring developments regarding the creation of this important international institution, the Human Rights Council.”