Huma Yusuf

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Huma Yusuf is a Pakistani columnist, policy analyst, media researcher and Wilson Center Fellow.


Missing rights, 2020[edit]

Missing rights (4 May, 2020), Dawn
  • Not surprisingly, initiatives to criminalise disappearances are stalled. The thing is, you only silence critics when you have something to hide. And the HRCP's report — documenting everything from miscarriage of justice to child abuse to poor enfranchisement — gives a sense of what this might be. The sad and shocking scale of rights abuses again raises the question of how efficacious the state's censorship strategy can be. When the public narrative significantly diverges from lived experience, the only outcome is more frustration among the people, who realise that on top of being poorly served, they’re also being lied to and manipulated.
  • The report also focuses on failings of our criminal justice system, an issue so endemic that we take it for granted rather than consider it a rights violation. But without a functional judicial system, we have no recourse or accountability. Justice in Pakistan is delayed and denied. And miscarriages of justice — such as Rana Bibi's 19-year imprisonment for a murder she didn't commit — are not atoned for.
  • In light of the pandemic, the plight of prisoners is particularly relevant. Pakistan's prisons are appallingly overcrowded, with an occupancy rate of 133.8pc. More than 62pc of this population comprises pre-trial detainees and those on remand. Jam-packed prisoners are more vulnerable to diseases, including hepatitis, HIV and now Covid-19.
  • Upholding human rights should underpin all policymaking. The challenges the report identifies will take years to address, but there are several ways this administration can signal a commitment to human rights. For starters, it can vow to protect the 18th Amendment. Such are the times, that the mere presentation of a report can be a political act.
  • Those closest, and so most accountable, to the people are best positioned to protect their rights.

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