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Pakistan

    May 15, 2018

    Human rights defenders in Pakistan are under threat from a targeted campaign of digital attacks, which has seen social media accounts hacked and computers and mobile phones infected with spyware, a four-month investigation by Amnesty International reveals.

    In a new report released today, “Human Rights Under Surveillance: Digital Threats against Human Rights Defenders in Pakistan”, Amnesty International reveals how attackers are using fake online identities and social media profiles to ensnare Pakistani human rights defenders online and mark them out for surveillance and cybercrime.

    “We uncovered an elaborate network of attackers who are using sophisticated and sinister methods to target human rights activists. Attackers use cleverly designed fake profiles to lure activists and then attack their electronic devices with spyware, exposing them to surveillance and fraud and even compromising their physical safety," said Sherif Elsayed-Ali, Director of Global Issues at Amnesty International.

    February 22, 2018
    Amnesty International publishes State of the World’s Human Rights report for 2017 to 2018 “Last year our world was immersed in crises, with prominent leaders offering us a nightmarish vision of a society blinded by hatred and fear. This emboldened those who promote bigotry, but it inspired far more people to campaign for a more hopeful future,” says Salil Shetty, head of Amnesty International

    The world is reaping the terrifying consequences of hate-filled rhetoric that threatens to normalize massive discrimination against marginalized groups, Amnesty International warned today as it launched its annual assessment of human rights.

    Nevertheless, the organization found that a growing movement of both first-time and seasoned activists campaigning for social justice provides real hope of reversing the slide towards oppression.

    The report, The State of the World’s Human Rights, covers 159 countries and delivers the most comprehensive analysis of the state of human rights in the world today.

    February 12, 2018

    Asma Jahangir was a brave champion of human rights who leaves behind a powerful legacy, Amnesty International said today, mourning the 66-year-old Pakistani lawyer’s sudden death in Lahore on Sunday.

    “For decades, Asma bravely fought for the most disadvantaged people in Pakistan, often at great personal risk. She championed the cause of women, children, bonded labourers, religious minorities, journalists, the disappeared, and so many others. She confronted injustice wherever she saw it,” said Salil Shetty, Amnesty International’s Secretary General.

    Asma Jahangir began leading protests as young schoolgirl. At the age of 18, she fought for the release of her father, Malik Ghulam Jilani, who had been arbitrarily detained by the military government of Gen. Yahya Khan, leading to an historic Supreme Court judgment.

    A lawyer by training, Asma Jahangir and her sister, Hina Jilani, established Pakistan’s first all women legal firm in Lahore. Their clients included Christians facing death sentences on blasphemy charges, bonded labourers who had fled the oppressive grip of feudal landowners, and women who faced violence at home.

    January 10, 2018

    The attacks on Taha Siddiqui and other Pakistani journalists must be immediately and effectively investigated by the authorities, Amnesty International said today, calling for an end to impunity for such attacks.

    Taha Siddiqui was driving to Islamabad airport at 8:20am today when the car he was traveling in was besieged by at least 10 armed men, who beat him, threatened to kill him, and tried to abduct him. The journalist escaped the assailants, but they took his possessions, including his passport, laptop and mobile phone.

    “The beating and attempted abduction of Taha Siddiqui is the latest in a deeply worrying pattern of attacks on journalists in Pakistan. This is the third case in recent months when a journalist has been targeted by violent attackers while traveling by car. There has thus far been a failure by the authorities to identify the perpetrators, let alone bring them to justice,” said Omar Waraich, Deputy South Asia Director at Amnesty International.

    July 27, 2017
      The rape of a teenage girl ordered by a village council in ‘revenge’ for a rape allegedly committed by her brother is the latest in a long series of horrific incidents and must lead to urgent reforms, said Amnesty International today. While 20 people from a village council near Multan have been arrested for ordering the rape, Pakistan’s authorities must end impunity for sexual violence and abolish so-called village councils that prescribe horrific crimes as revenge.   “Pakistan’s authorities must end impunity for sexual violence and crack down on the so-called village councils that prescribe horrific crimes against women, often in revenge for acts committed by others. For far too long, there has been an indulgence of these unspeakably cruel practices,” said Nadia Rahman, Amnesty International’s Pakistan Campaigner.
    July 24, 2017
      Responding to a bombing near a vegetable market in Lahore that has claimed the lives of at least 11 people, Amnesty International's Pakistan campaigner, Nadia Rahman, said:   "This is a horrific attack that was targeted at ordinary people and has caused an appalling loss of life. The authorities must immediately order an independent and effective investigation. The victims of the bombing deserve justice. The perpetrators must be held accountable in line with international human rights standards."
    June 12, 2017

    Responding to an Anti-Terrorism court’s decision to convict and sentence to death a man for allegedly posting content on Facebook deemed to be ‘blasphemous’, Amnesty International’s Pakistan campaigner, Nadia Rahman, said:

    “Convicting and sentencing someone to death for allegedly posting blasphemous material online is a violation of international human rights law and sets a dangerous precedent. The authorities are using vague and broad laws to criminalize freedom of expression. He and all others accused of ‘blasphemy’ must be released immediately.

    “Instead of holding people accountable for mob violence that has killed at least three people and injured several more in recent months, the authorities are becoming part of the problem by enforcing laws that lack safeguards and are open to abuse.

    March 22, 2017

    Pakistan’s lawmakers must immediately reverse their decision to reinstate military courts, Amnesty International said today.

    Two months after their original mandate of two years lapsed, Pakistan’s parliament passed a bill to reinstate military courts that violate international law, strip defendants of key rights, and operate in notorious secrecy.

    “Military courts have no business trying civilians. There is no fair process involved where trials are held in secrecy, there is no right to appeal, and judges may be unqualified to preside in judgment,” said David Griffiths, Amnesty International’s Senior Adviser on South Asia.

    “By surrendering the judicial system to the military, Pakistan’s lawmakers have failed in their duty to support an independent civilian judiciary. They are recklessly abandoning people to a court system that has in the last two years produced coerced confessions, unfair trials and executions.”

    Under Pakistan’s military courts, no information about the charges or evidence against the suspects, or the sentences given, is made available in the public domain.

    November 17, 2016

    In response to Pakistan’s politically motivated decision to expel more than 100 Turkish school teachers, Amnesty International’s South Asia Director Champa Patel said:

    “With 24 million Pakistani children out of school, Pakistan’s decision to expel teachers from the Pak-Turk International Schools and Colleges will only hurt Pakistan’s children.

    “What the country needs is more classrooms and more teachers, not a politically-motivated decision to purge educators at the behest of the Turkish government.”

    Background

    Pakistan has ordered more than 100 Turkish teachers from the PakTurk schools to leave the country by the end of the week.

    The order comes as Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan is visiting Pakistan.

    The PakTurk schools deny the Turkish government’s allegation the network is linked to Turkish cleric Fethullah Gülen, currently in exile in the USA and a former ally of the ruling AK Party.

    November 04, 2016

    Reacting to Pakistan's decision to deport Sharbat Gula, the iconic 'Afghan girl' whose striking portrait adorned a 1985 cover of National Geographic magazine, Amnesty International’s South Asia Director Champa Patel said:

    "Pakistan’s decision to deport Sharbat Gula is a grave injustice. For decades, she was known as the world’s most famous refugee and seen as a symbol of Pakistan’s status as a generous host.

    Now, by sending her back to a country she hasn’t seen in a generation and her children have never known, her plight has become emblematic of Pakistan’s cruel treatment of Afghan refugees.

    “By forcing Afghan refugees to return across the border into the arms of an increasingly deadly conflict, Pakistan is in breach of the principle of non-refoulement. It is putting the lives of vulnerable people at risk of serious human rights abuses.”

     

    Background

    Sharbat Gula is poised to be deported to Afghanistan after serving a 15-day jail sentence and paying a fine, a special anti-corruption and immigration court in Peshawar ruled 

    today.

    November 04, 2016

    Reacting to Pakistan's decision to deport Sharbat Gula, the iconic 'Afghan girl' whose striking portrait adorned a 1985 cover of National Geographic magazine, Amnesty International’s South Asia Director Champa Patel said:

    "Pakistan’s decision to deport Sharbat Gula is a grave injustice. For decades, she was known as the world’s most famous refugee and seen as a symbol of Pakistan’s status as a generous host. Now, by sending her back to a country she hasn’t seen in a generation and her children have never known, her plight has become emblematic of Pakistan’s cruel treatment of Afghan refugees.

    “By forcing Afghan refugees to return across the border into the arms of an increasingly deadly conflict, Pakistan is in breach of the principle of non-refoulement. It is putting the lives of vulnerable people at risk of serious human rights abuses.”

    Background

    Sharbat Gula is poised to be deported to Afghanistan after serving a 15-day jail sentence and paying a fine, a special anti-corruption and immigration court in Peshawar ruled today.

    October 31, 2016

    Pakistan’s authorities must immediately and unconditionally release hundreds of opposition activists, lift restrictions on their movement and take all appropriate measures to ensure that people are allowed to exercise their right to peaceful assembly, Amnesty International said today.

    The organization’s calls come as Pakistan’s authorities have intensified their crackdown on supporters of Imran Khan’s Tehreek-e-Insaf party, including by using unnecessary and excessive force. The police fired tear gas and rubber bullets against protesters and detained hundreds in indiscriminate and arbitrary mass arrests.

    Amnesty International has received credible reports that hundreds of people have been arrested under Section 144 of the Penal Code, a draconian colonial-era law that forbids the gathering of more than four people, and represents an undue restriction on the rights to freedom of expression and peaceful assembly.

    October 11, 2016

    Pakistan’s authorities must immediately revoke a travel ban on a leading journalist and allow the media to operate freely and without fear, Amnesty International said today.

    Cyril Almeida, assistant editor of Dawn newspaper, was placed on Pakistan’s Exit Control List by the Pakistani authorities after the Prime Minister’s Office took exception to a front page report he wrote, dated 6 October, on tensions between the civilian government and the military.

    “The travel ban on Cyril Almeida is a crude intimidation tactic designed to silence journalists and stop them from doing their jobs,” said Audrey Gaughran, Amnesty International’s Director of Global Issues.

    “Journalism is not a crime. They should be able to work freely and without fear. The Pakistani authorities must break with a longstanding practice of subjecting media workers to intimidation, threats, restrictions on movements, enforced disappearances and violence.”

    Earlier this year Reporters without Borders ranked Pakistan 147th out of 180 countries for press freedom, the lowest position in South Asia.

    September 26, 2016

    Pakistan’s authorities must not execute Imdad Ali, a death row prisoner with a history of mental illness, Amnesty International said today.

    “With this warrant to execute Imdad Ali, Pakistan is clearly in breach of international human rights standards that protect people with mental illnesses and ensure that they are never subject to this cruel and irreversible punishment,” said Champa Patel, Amnesty International’s South Asia Director.

    Imdad Ali was convicted of the murder of a religious teacher in 2002. In 2012, he was diagnosed a suffering from “paranoid schizophrenia,” a condition the doctor who examined him described as “a chronic and disabling psychiatric illness.”

    Dr. Naeemullah Leghari, the head of psychiatry at Nishtar Hospital in the central Pakistani city of Multan, added that Imdad Ali’s illness “impairs the person’s rational thinking and decision-making capabilities.”

    September 02, 2016

    Reacting to Friday’s attacks on a court in Mardan and on a Christian community just outside Peshawar, both in Pakistan’s northwest Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province, Amnesty International said:

    “Today’s attacks a horrific reminder that Pakistan’s authorities must do more to ensure vulnerable groups are protected. The authorities have a duty to protect the right to life, prevent human rights abuses, and hold perpetrators to account in fair trials without recourse to the death penalty or other human rights violations. Armed groups are seeking to undermine the rule of law by targeting both the people who defend it in court and the people it should protect,” said Champa Patel, Amnesty International’s South Asia Director.

     

    For further information, please contact Elizabeth Berton-Hunter, Media Relations 416-363-9933 ext 332 bberton-hunter@amnesty.ca

     

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