April 7, 2023
By Ahmed Saeed
The Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP) has demanded to end the unwarranted interference of law enforcement and security agencies in Balochistan’s political affairs and civilian administrative matters.
“[Balochistan]’s citizens must be able to take part in free, fair, credible and transparent elections in 2023 so that an effective provincial government and civilian administration can run the affairs of the province to ensure Balochistan’s provincial autonomy,” read a fact-finding report published by the HRCP.
The report expressed concern about continued reports of enforced disappearances. The HRCP urged the Balochistan government and the federal government to ensure that all missing persons are accounted for and recovered safely.
“Any citizens or residents of the province who are deprived of their liberty for lawful reasons must be kept in a fully authorized place of detention, produced in court, and the law allowed to take its course. Additionally, victims of enforced disappearances, their families and witnesses must be provided protection in case of reprisals,” the report suggested.
The fact-finding report also called for enacting a journalists’ safety law to promote and protect the independence, impartiality, safety and freedom of expression of journalists and media professionals.
It also cautioned the Balochistan government to uphold its citizens’ right to freedom of peaceful assembly by avoiding the use of excessive or disproportionate force.
“The provincial government must enact legislation to restore student unions in Balochistan to allow all students to exercise their constitutional right to freedom of association. Universities in turn must be willing to listen to and address the legitimate demands of their student bodies, paying special attention to the needs of women students in terms of transport, hostel accommodation, campus safety and security against sexual or physical harassment,” the report urged.
The HRCP report also highlighted the issues being faced by the people of Gwadar and the treatment meted out to the leadership of Haq Do Tehreek by law enforcement agencies.
“The long-standing, reasonable demands of the Haq Do Tehreek must be met, including the demand for access to healthcare, electricity and clean drinking water and an end to enforced disappearances.”
The report demanded that the fisherfolk community in Gwadar should be allowed to continue to earn their livelihood through fishing, despite any ongoing planned projects under CPEC.
The report urged the provincial government to increase the budgets available to the prisons department to allow access to medical supplies and establish drug detox centres for prisons that face an acute drug use problem among inmates.