Mr. Akhtar Baloch, coordinator of the Hyderabad office of the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP)

Re: Mr. Akhtar Baloch, coordinator of the Hyderabad office of the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP)

To: President Pervez Musharef

From: Brian Donovan of LRWC

Date: 2003-04-03

I write as a member of Lawyers’ Rights Watch Canada, a committee of Canadian lawyers whose mandate is to monitor the situations of, and provide international support for, lawyers who find themselves in danger due to their activities as advocates against human rights violations and abuses, and promoting the domestic enforcement of internationally recognized human rights standards. We are gravely concerned for the safety of Mr. Akhtar Baloch, coordinator of the Hyderabad office of the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP).

It is reported that on the evening of March 23, 2003, Mr. Baloch left the annual meeting of the HRCP in Hyderabad with a colleague. On their way home, their car was stopped by two armed men on a motorcycle. Another car then arrived with three other armed men, who threatened Mr. Baloch’s colleague and then abducted Mr. Baloch, driving him to an unknown destination. Mr. Baloch was released three days later but was subjected to torture in the interim and is reportedly still subject to threat.

We are most concerned that Mr. Baloch’s abduction and maltreatment appears to have been intended as a message to intimidate the HRCP for legitimate criticisms of State practices and its publication and denunciation of human rights violations by the government of Pakistan. The HRCP published its annual report early in March, 2003, shortly before Mr. Baloch’s abduction.

We respectfully suggest that the government of Pakistan is obliged, both under its domestic laws and its international obligations, to investigate Mr. Baloch’s abduction and maltreatment, insure his future safety, and, generally, to put an end to this form of violence and intimidation. We draw your attention to the Declaration of the Right and Responsibility of Individuals, Groups and Organs of Society to Promote and Protect Universally Recognized Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms, adopted by the General Assembly of the United Nations on March 8, 1999. In particular, we direct your attention to the following Articles of the Declaration:
Article 1
Everyone has the right, individually and in association with others, to promote and to strive for the protection and realization of human rights and fundamental freedoms at the national and international levels.
Article 9, paragraph 5
The State shall conduct a prompt and impartial investigation or ensure that an inquiry takes place whenever there is a reasonable ground to believe that a violation of human rights and fundamental freedoms has occurred in any territory under its jurisdiction.
Article 12, paragraph 2
The State shall take all necessary measures to ensure the protection by the competent authorities of everyone, individually and in association with others, against any violence, threats, retaliation, de facto or de jure adverse discrimination, pressure or any other arbitrary action as a consequence of his or her legitimate exercise of the rights referred to in the present Declaration.

In accordance with Pakistan’s international obligations we respectfully request your intervention to insure Mr. Baloch’s security and safety. We call upon your government, as well, to identify and bring to justice those responsible for Mr. Baloch’s abduction and torture.

The courtesy of your reply would be appreciated.