1338 Suicides in year that Pakistan Forgot Human Rights’

The Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP) has documented 1338 suicides in the country during 2018. This reflects a rise in suicides resulting from depression over the country’s political and economic situation. At the launch of its flagship annual report, State of Human Rights in 2018, the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP) noted that, “in a year of general elections, it was inevitable perhaps that the progress and observation of human rights issues might be suspended, if not forgotten. The elections themselves were plagued by allegations of pre-poll manipulation and vote rigging – never fully resolved – and some appalling outbreaks of violence. Nonetheless, there were more women candidates for general seats in these elections than in any past election, and for the first time, transgender candidates contested the polls.”

Further, HRCP commented on “the unprecedented level to which the fundamental right to freedom of expression was overtly violated, particularly in the run-up to the elections,’ adding that ‘in the guise of “national security concerns”, restrictions on media coverage were stepped up, journalists took increasingly to self-censorship, the distribution of a national newspaper was severely curtailed, and a media blackout was imposed on coverage of certain events.”

The HRCP also noted “reports of enforced disappearances, extrajudicial killings, the abuse and murder of children, violence towards women, child labour, religious intolerance, the persecution of minorities, and crimes committed in the name of “honour”. Women, children and labour remained highly vulnerable. HRCP monitoring data showed at least 845 incidents of sexual violence against women, and 316 crimes in the name of ‘honour’ perpetrated against both men and women. In Thar, Sindh, 638 children died of malnutrition in 2018.”

Finally, the HRPC pointed out that “While the interventions of the Supreme Court attracted much attention, the long-awaited reform of the criminal justice system remained on the back burner and the steady accumulation and growth of the backlog of cases went unchecked in all the courts. By year-end, there were close to 1.9 million cases pending in over 250 lower, special and superior courts. At the end of the year 4,688 prisoners were on death row. At least 500 have been executed since 2014, 14 of them in 2018.”

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