Rights Watch (30th March 2020)

Rights Watch

Labourers Bereft of Food

Hyderabad NGOs and volunteer groups tasked with distributing ration bags to the underprivileged say the allocated Rs20 million in relief have yet to be utilized. Volunteers point out that the administration is currently facing difficulty in identifying the “deserving” and mapping out distribution points, avoiding overlap and ensuring that people are truly aided. Currently, NGOs remain in the dark about when this campaign will begin.

Meanwhile, labor groups across Hyderabad staged protests against the indefinite delay in providing basic commodities. The lockdown has not only denied them their daily wages, but the closure of shops, hotels and restaurants has also left them without any shelter and food. General Secretary of the Grand Democratic Alliance, Ayaz Latif Palijo, bemoaned the threat of corruption that may leave many deserving groups and family to starve as had been the case during the 2010 floods.

Prisoners’ Rights

While Sindh CM Murad Ali Shah ordered the approval of the release of 4,000 convicts on Sunday to prevent possible COVID-19 outbreak in Sindh prisons, the Supreme Court issued an order on Monday restraining high courts and government bodies from passing directives for the release of under-trial prisoners. It also clarified that if any release orders given prior to the intervention of the Supreme Court were yet to be implemented, they would not be enforced until further directive from the apex court.

CJP Gulzar called into question the jurisdictions of the Islamabad High Court and suspended the IHC’s verdict to release 24 UTPs in NAB references, issued on the 26th of March.

Forced Conversion

The Bhawalpur bench of the LHC awarded the custody of a minor Hindu girl, Bhambo Mai, to her “husband” here on Monday. According to the girl’s mother, Hassi Mai, Bhambo was abducted from their village in Yazman, district Bhawalpur, on 13th March by an older Muslim villager, Munir Ahmed. The girl was reportedly converted under duress and married. During the initial hearing of the case, the district magistrate had rejected Bhambo Mai’s Child Registration Certificate as evidence, citing her statement that she wished to go with her husband as enough grounds to uphold her “marriage” with Munir Ahmed. LHC has upheld the verdict.