The Joint Action Committee for Peoples’ Rights has defended a report of the Centre for Social Justice (CSJ) to the UN Human Rights Council, condemning a vilification campaign in the media against civil society organisations.
A statement issued by JAC, which comprises over 30 civil society organisations, rejected a news item appearing in Daily Jang on Aug 21, alleging that a report of the CSJ to the UN Human Rights Council may have been contrary to facts.
The news report, citing sources, alleged that the CSJ report was a bid to malign Pakistan internationally and called for action against the rights outfit.
Defending the CSJ report, the JAC said the content of the mentioned report reflects verifiable ground situation vis-à-vis freedom of religion or belief. Further, the CSJ report is based on facts, which have been properly cited. “Besides, the issues covered in the report have been widely discussed, in the courts, parliamentary bodies and media in the country.”
It said that the joint civil society report also makes concrete and workable recommendations for the government with each issue explained.
“The government should constructively consider these recommendations to help resolve the longstanding issues which are an actual source of embarrassment for the country.”
Furthermore, civil society organizations, including CSJ, have already taken part in the Universal Periodic Reviews (UPR) in 2008, 2012 and 2017, as it is mandatory in the United Nations’ procedures.
“The government of Pakistan has pledged to be part of this review process since 2006 after the induction of the UN Human Rights Council.” It became mandatory for every member country of the UN to go through the periodic review after every four and a half year.
The JAC said the Fourth Review of Pakistan is due in January 2023, while the government is supposed to submit its report in October 2022. “In its report, the government can respond to the issues raised or even act to resolve the same and can seek credit during the session next year.” However, if the incidence of violence in the name of religion continues, the government will be held answerable at all competent forums, it added.
The forum said that as far as the Economic Affairs division is concerned, the Sindh High Court has already held in 2022 the INGOs/ NGOs policy to be without a legal basis and void.
“We also reiterate that vibrant participation of civil society organisations helps improve view about Pakistan and its engagement helps improve the conditions for its people. Whereas, living in a state of denial will impede the resolution of these long-standing issues,” Irfan Mufti, Convener of JAC, said in the statement.
Talking to Kross Konnection, CSJ Executive Director Peter Jacob denied they had received any official letter related to the report.
“The report is based on facts and all references have been properly cited,” he said, adding that they are ready to sit with the government and discuss its reservations.