Human rights defenders demand provision of fair trial of accused

KARACHI: Sindh Human Rights Defenders Network (SHRDN) on Monday called upon the government to ensure provision of fair trial to all citizens, demanding that those people who are missing for many months or years should be produced before a court, if they were alleged in a crime.

In a statement issued after a meeting of the Steering Committee of SHRDN held in Karachi today, SHRDN Convener Advocate Ali Palh expressed serious concern over the growing cases of enforced disappearances in the country, especially in Sindh. The meeting was attended by human rights defenders from different parts of Sindh.

They noted the alarming rise in threats to human rights defenders in the province. General human rights situation in Sindh is disturbing as people are deprived of their fundamental rights. “Instead of providing protection to common citizens, police and law enforced agencies have unleashed excesses against citizens”, the statement said adding that incidents of extra judicial killings by police are disturbing.

The participants of the meeting discussed various threats to the human rights defenders in Sindh, especially those working on advocacy of rights for the vulnerable sections of the society. They expressed concern over growing Jirga system in upper Sindh districts, where feudal lords illegally hold tribal courts to settle disputes. The Supreme Court has already declared Jirgas as illegal.

The government’s aggressive attitude towards civil society organisations especially the non governmental sector has been causing anxiety and unrest among those associated with NGOs. The irrational ban on international NGOs and curbs on activities of local NGOs in the name of regularisation is hampering their functioning.

It was also noted that human rights defenders standing up for participatory development and resisting non consultative, anti people development paradigm are being subjected to constant intimidation and threats. Sadly, the state is a part of the problem. SHRDN undertook the resolve to protect human rights defenders being targeted for their work. “We stand for upholding the constitution. There is need for all stakeholders to work within the constitutional and rights framework that guarantees fundamental rights and access to freedom for all. This is the only way forward for a progressive democracy.”