Monthly Archives: October, 2010

HRCP demands urgent focus on real issues

* Stresses efforts for revival of local govt system, addressing the needs of IDPs, curbing terrorism and intolerance

LAHORE: The Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP) has expressed concern over the fast deterioration of state of affairs of the country and urged the government to return to the task of governance and address the problems of the people.

A statement issued at the conclusion of the HRCP Council on Sunday said, “The HRCP expresses serious concern at the aggravation of the crisis of the state, caused primarily by a confrontation between institutions driven by insecurity or by self-righteousness. The entire government seems to have suffered a paralysis at a time when it faces the challenge of rehabilitating millions of people affected by floods, of saving the economy from a collapse, and of guaranteeing the citizens’ security of life and liberty.” (more…)

Sri Lanka: Rizana’s Family Lives in Hope

By Sumaiya Rizvi

The family of Rizana Nafeek is hopeful that she will be reunited with her family soon since President Mahinda Rajapaksa has appealed to the Saudi King, Rizana’s mother Fathima Razeena told the Daily Mirror yesterday.

Meanwhile there are reports from Saudi Arabia that Rizana Nafeek will be executed today.

“I know my child will come back to me but at the same time I’m scared of her plight since I have never spoken to her since 2007,” Mrs. Razeena said. Rizana’s Father M.H. Nafeek and her mother had both visited her in Prison in 2007 and they complained that their daughter had been in prison for more than 4 years.

“The Saudi Government does not notify prior to the beheading and in this occasion too if she is beheaded today, which I fear might happen, they will do so and then inform of the beheading,” Housemaid Rights Activist and MP Ranjan Ramanayake said. On previous occasions the Saudi Government beheaded two Sri Lankans who were sentenced to 10 and 15 years in prison, he added. (more…)

Human rights icon elected to champion constitutional rights

By Muhammad Akram

LAHORE: Asma Jahangir’s election as president of the Supreme Court Bar Association is a success for democratic forces in the country and is bound to strengthen the human rights movement in the country, which she is spearheading as an undisputed icon.

Asma Jahangir represents modern, progressive and forward-looking sections of Pakistani society across the globe. Her election to the office is bound to bring about a sea change in Pakistan’s perception around the world, as a state of strife struggling to counter the menace of Talibanisation of society.

The verdict by the lawyers’ community is itself an expression of not succumbing any longer to the hangover of lawyers’ movement that helped restore the sacked judiciary headed by Chief Justice Iftikhar Chaudhry. Asma Jahangir has defeated, though with a narrow margin of 35 votes, the so-called champion of lawyers’ movement, the Hamid Khan group, despite the fact that she was known for her critical views of numerous judgements by the “independent” yet pro-active judiciary. The verdict by the top lawyers of the country is reflective of the suppressed expression on the conduct of the bar and bench vis-à-vis the nascent democracy struggling to get rooted against a barrage of suo motu notices on issues that need to be purely addressed by the executive. (more…)

Abolish the Death Penalty

Britain’s campaign to see capital punishment abolished globally and its pledge to exercise moral leadership on this issue reflects a long standing philosophical commitment to this doctrine. The United Kingdom’s strategy highlighted by the British Foreign Office, through its embassies worldwide on the “World Day Against the Death Penalty” (October 10), draws upon its own record of abolition since 1965. Britain is working towards a a global moratorium on executions by 2015. The key objectives of the policy are the protection of British citizens overseas facing the death sentence, extradition of accused persons to countries without the risk of execution, and exerting influence on third parties to refrain from carrying out sentences in important cases. Accordingly, the strategy is to get the hardline states to reduce the number of offences that attract this penalty, while encouraging incremental steps towards a total abolition. These include refraining from executing juveniles, pregnant women and the insane, besides guaranteeing the right to fair trial, appeal, and seek a pardon or commutation. In addition, pressure will be mounted on the United Nations for getting another resolution passed by the General Assembly on global moratorium. (more…)

Sri Lanka: Amnesty Fights for Rizana

Amnesty International today urged the Saudi Arabian King to halt the execution of a young Sri Lankan woman who has lost her appeal against a death sentence for a murder committed when she says she was 17 years old.

Rizana Nafeek, who was arrested in May 2005 on charges of killing an infant in her care, had her death sentence upheld on Monday by Riyadh’s Supreme Court.

The case now awaits final ratification by King Abdullah. Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa has already appealed to the King to exercise clemency.

It would be outrageous if Rizana Nafeek were to be executed for this crime, said Malcolm Smart, Director of Middle East and North Africa programme at Amnesty International. It appears that she was herself a child at the time and there are real concerns about the fairness of her trial.

(more…)

Sri Lanka: HR Body Requests the Intervention of Muslims

The Asian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) yesterday earnestly requested the kind intervention of all persons of the Muslim faith to intervene to save the life of the innocent Sri Lankan girl Rizana Nafeek who has been sentenced to death in Saudi Arabia.The AHRC said that she was only 17-years-old when she went to Saudi Arabia with almost less than a month after her arrival she faced the unfortunate situation when an infant she was bottle feeding choked and due to her inexperience she was unable to save the infant’s life. The AHRC said in a statement that young girl who came from a remote part of Sri Lanka due to the dire poverty of her family had no experience of nursing an infant and it is not disputed that the death occurred while she was bottle feeding the infant.There was no evidence at any stage that she had any dispute with the family or had any intention to deliberately harm the child, the statement said.She has already been in jail for five years as the incident happened in 2005 due  to an unfortunate accident.“We urge your intervention.. on behalf of this young girl to save her life, the AHRC said.“…we made an appeal to all Muslim scholars to consider to intervene, it said.

Source: The Daily Mirror – 28.10.2010

Rizana’s Father Appeals

By Amadoru Amarajeewa

The father of the domestic aide Rizana Nafeek, has appealed again to the king of Saudi Arabia for clemency for his daughter.

Mohamed Sultan Nafik of Safi Nagar, has also written to President Mahinda Rajapaksa to intervene and save his daughter from the death row as no change had been made by the Saudi Arabian highest court with regard to the death sentence. He stated that his daughter spoke to him last on the 23rd and cried.

About one and a half years ago Rizana’s father, mother and the sister had visited her in prison. Family members are leading a hard life by plucking fire wood, feeding four members

Source: The Daily Mirror – 28.10.2010

President Calls for Clemency for Rizana

President Mahinda Rajapaksa had written to His Majesty the King of Saudi Arabia, on Monday, appealing for clemency with respect to the Sri Lankan national Ms. Rizana Nafeek. Nafeek was convicted and is facing execution as an outcome of a case related to the death of an infant entrusted to her care.

Nafeek arrived in Saudi Arabia in April 2005.  The unfortunate death of the child took place a month later in May that year.  The Sri Lankan authorities, as well as several well-wishers have been involved in observing the case and facilitating her in coping with her legal issues.

The Ministry of External Affairs reiterated in a release yesterday that Sri Lanka and Saudi Arabia maintained excellent bilateral relations. The sentiments of sensitivity, understanding and flexibility continued to characterize the growing ties between the two countries, the statement added

Source: The Daily Mirror – 27.10.2010

Women’s Participation Not Enough, Says Study

A year-long study in six countries including Sri Lanka revealed that the goal of a UN resolution adopted 10 years ago to put women in decision-making positions at every level of peacemaking and peace building is not being met, reports said.

“Member states are not fulfilling their obligations. This is a resolution that is both realistic and innovative, covering half the population of the world. It is important, and it is being ignored,” executive director John Tirman of the MIT Center for International Studies, which helped organize the study, said in a statement.

The study was released on Monday, the eve of a ministerial meeting of the U.N. Security Council to review progress towards implementing the resolution on women, peace and security. U.S. Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton and Austria’s Foreign Minister Michael Spindelegger were among those expected to speak at yesterday’s open meeting.

The U.N. resolution was the first to recognize “the important role of women in the prevention and resolution of conflicts and in peace-building” and “the importance of their equal participation and full involvement in all efforts for the maintenance and promotion of peace and security.”

It also called for the prosecution of crimes against women, increased protection of women and girls during war, especially against rape and sexual violence, and the appointment of more women to U.N. peacekeeping operations and field missions.

The 50-page study focused on six countries or regions still in conflict or emerging from it – Indonesia’s province of Aceh, Colombia, Israel and the Palestinian territories, Liberia, Sri Lanka and Uganda. The researchers said it was based on extensive interviews, government documents, press accounts and the experience of the study team.

In Sri Lanka and Uganda, the study said, women were included in delegations to peace talks and achieved some gains but these were negated by the failure of the talks.

Source: The Daily Mirror – 27.10.2010

Nepal: Disabled women’s plea for legal shield

Women living with disability say they feel left out in the cold for want of legal protection, thereby hindering their empowerment.

Representatives of women with disability say lack of a clear law regarding the rights of physically challenged women and some of the defamatory legal provisions regarding the marital and reproductive rights of disabled women have impeded their progress. Besides, the use of derogatory terms for people with disability in general and women in particular have hurt their dignity, they maintain.

“The Disabled Protection and Welfare Act 1982 has terms like “aandho/aandhi” (blind) and “langaado” (one with deformed leg) which are derogatory and needs to be replaced by respectful terms,” said Tika Dahal, president of Nepal Disabled Women Association. (more…)

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