On January 21st,
ESCR-Net sent a letter to the government of Pakistan to
express concern about the recent arrest of Saeed Baloch, human rights defender,
fisherfolk leader and member of the Board of ESCR-Net.
The letter expressed the collective appreciation of ESCR-Net’s
membership for the contributions made by Mr. Baloch in the promotion and
defense of human rights, both in Pakistan and around the world.
According to reports received, Mr. Baloch was
arrested on Saturday, January 16, 2016 by the Rangers, a paramilitary security
force in Pakistan. While evidence against him has not been presented, Mr.
Baloch was allegedly accused of financially assisting an individual involved in
organized crime and of embezzling fisheries’ funds. In light of the broad
powers granted to the Rangers in Sindh Province under the vague provisions of
the Anti-Terrorism Act, ESCR-Net is concerned that Mr. Baloch may remain
detained for up to three months without formally being charged with any crime.
ESCR-Net calls on Pakistan to:
a prompt and independent investigation into the basis behind the charges
against Mr. Baloch and ensure his immediate and unconditional release, in
the absence of credible evidence to support the allegations against
the event that Mr. Baloch continues to be detained for any period, take
immediate steps to ensure the protection of all of his rights while in
custody including, among others, communication with counsel of his own
the enjoyment of all human rights for people in Pakistan, including the
rights to freedom of expression and association through, among other
measures, ensuring the conformity of national legislation with the
international human rights obligations accepted by Pakistan;
urgent steps to ensure that action taken, or restrictions imposed, by the
government or its agents in connection with purported anti-terrorism
operations is prescribed by law, necessary in a democratic society, and
proportionate to the aim; and
urgent action to ensure that human rights defenders working in Pakistan
enjoy, in practice, all the protections guaranteed to them by the
standards of international human rights law, including, among other human
rights defenders, those advocating for the social, economic, cultural and
political rights of fishing communities and the protection of natural
resources in Pakistan.
Please read the complete letter here.