Rights Watch | September 25th 2020

--HRCP condemns unverified reports of FIA cases against 49 journalists --Punjab Ombudsman Against Harassment in Workplace, releases Workplace Harassment toolkit --Multiple rapes & Gang Rape incidents involving women & children reported in Okara, Toba Tek Singh, Chiniot & Sialkot --Woman gunned down by father-in-law in Jamshoro in Honour Killing incident.


HRCP condemns cases against journos

The Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP) expressed concern on Twitter on Thursday, September 24, over yet-to-be-verified reports of cases lodged against 49 journalists with the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) under the Prevention of Electronic Crimes Act of 2016. In a circulating Whatsapp message, Ammar Masood, Aizaz Syed, Asad Ali Toor, Ihtisham Afghan, Murtaza Solangi, and Umar Cheema were the only ones named.

In response to these reports, the HRCP urged the government of Pakistan to refrain from using the FIA to clamp down on political dissent in the country.

Anti-workplace harassment toolkit launched

The Punjab Ombudsman for Protection Against Harassment of Women at Workplace, in collaboration with UN Women Pakistan, on Thursday, September 24, launched an anti-harassment toolkit to promote awareness about sexual harassment through creating understanding about anti-harassment concepts as well as procedures for creating a safe working environment. The resource, titled sub-tilted Understanding Sexual Harassment, Legal Provisions Roles of Duty Bearers & Rights Holders, also hopes to disseminate information and support effective implementation of the law, as most of the legal provisions are often not implemented due to lack of information of the duty bearers as well as the victim.

Multiple rapes reported in Punjab

Several rapes and gang-rapes of women and minors were reported across Punjab in the past couple of days. Cases were registered for three separate incidents of the sexual assault of three minor boys in 47/GD, Chishti Qutab Din, and Shergah Town. A case was registered regarding the rape of a girl in 1/1AL village, while an accused involved in the sexual assault of a girl in Lai Fazal Shah village has been nabbed. A woman was abducted and repeatedly raped in illegal captivity for nearly five months within Shahbore police limits before she was recently able to escape. A case has been registered for this case as well – all these incidents were reported in Okara alone.

A Chiniot woman, a resident of Chak No 142 JB, was abducted by a lone individual while she was out shopping in Aminpur Town and then raped at a deserted house. Her abductor handed her over to a friend and his brother who also sexually assaulted her. The ordeal lasted for three days. Rajoa police lodged an FIR under section 376 (punishment for rape) of the Pakistan Penal Code (PPC) and have arrested all three of the nominated suspects.

A 14-year-old girl of Thro village in Pasrur tehsil, district Sialkot, was gang-raped by two armed suspects in her home on Thursday, September 24. The suspects had broken into her home and sexually assaulted her, leaving her in critical condition. She has been admitted to the Pasrur tehsil headquarters (THQ) hospital, and a case has been registered however no arrests have yet to be made.

A woman was allegedly raped by her brother-in-law in Gojra City, Toba Tek Singh. According to complainant Arshad Ali, the rape survivor’s husband, his sister’s husband, Abdul Rauf, had visited their home and upon finding Ali’s wife alone proceeded to rape her and shoot videos of her. The victim then revealed to her husband that Rauf was blackmailing her. Ali alleged that the police had refused to register a case against the accused, prompting him to submit a petition to district and sessions court – the court has ordered the Gojra City police to lodge an FIR.

In another incident, a widow was raped in her home in Gojra City by one Amer Masih. An FIR has been lodged however the accused is still at large.

Woman murdered by for honor

A woman was gunned down by her father-in-law in a village near Sehwan in district Jamshoro, Sindh, on Thursday, September 24. Faiza, the mother to an eight-month-old baby, was murdered for the honor by her father-in-law Gulsher Channa who believed she was having an affair while her husband was away at work in Saudia Arabia. Channa had surrendered himself to the police, and three other family members were arrested for interrogation. The deceased’s body has been shifted to the Syed Abdullah Shah Institute of Medical Sciences for a post-mortem examination.

Bereaved claim relative murdered in custody

Relatives of one Nawaz Siyal have appealed to higher authorities to probe into Siyal’s alleged custodial murder by police officials in Ghotki, Sindh. According to Ghotki police, Siyal was injured during an encounter on the night of September 23 within Wasti Jeewan Shah police limits and died during treatment at a hospital on September 24. His body was surrendered to his relatives via an ambulance.

However, bereaved relatives state that Siyal was murdered – he was picked up while he was eating at a hotel in Quaidabad, Karachi, some six days ago in connection with the killing of a police constable in Ghotki nearly three months ago. His family and friends held a protest for his immediate release on September 23 and were informed in the evening that Siyal had been wounded in an encounter. The aggrieved people have demanded an impartial and just investigation into the incident