The Committee examined Pakistan on the 12-13 June 2017. Pakistan Dalit Solidarity Network and IDSN submitted a joint alternative report prior to the review, outlining discrimination against Dalits, regarding their enjoyment of all economic, civil, political, and social rights. The CESCR Concluding Observations call on the government to address the continuing de facto discrimination and segregation (E/C.12/PAK/CO/1).
Below is the section from the Concluding Observations recommending to address caste-based discrimination:
31. The Committee remains concerned at well-documented reports of the continuing de facto discrimination and segregation facing the Scheduled Castes/Dalits and the entrenched stigma and prejudice against them (arts. 2, 6, 13 and 14).
32. The Committee recommends that the State party carry out a study on the situation of the Scheduled Castes/Dalits with the participation of this community and relevant experts and include information on the situation of Dalits in the country, including relevant statistical data, in its next periodic report. It also recommends that the State party take effective measures to eradicate stigma and prejudice against the Scheduled Castes/Dalits, including awareness-raising campaigns, and to combat discrimination against Dalits, particularly in the employment and education sectors.
Listed below are all observations made on caste and related recommendations from the 90th session:
Access to justice
23. The Committee welcomes the free legal assistance programmes provided for in the National Action Plan for Human Rights of 2016 and the allocation of funding to this end. However, it remains concerned that persons belonging to ethnic and religious minorities, refugees and the Scheduled Caste (Dalits) have had limited access to justice owing to high legal fees and the lack of clarity on the criteria and procedure for the application of the free legal assistance programmes (arts. 5 and 6).
- The Committee recommends that the State party effectively implement the planned free legal assistance programmes, through establishing fair and effective criteria and procedures for application, and making information on the programmes widely available to the public, particularly to those who are most in need of legal assistance.
27. The Committee is concerned that, despite the adoption of the Bonded Labour System (Abolition) Act of 1992, the bonded labour practices persist in the State party, particularly in brick kiln and textile industries and among the Scheduled Castes (Dalits). It appears that the Act has not been effectively implemented owing to the lack of awareness of the Law, among people working under debt-bondage as well as law enforcement and judicial officials (arts. 1 and 5).
- The Committee recommends that the State party take all measures necessary to fully implement the Act and urges it to publicize information on the Act and the remedies provided for in the Act, particularly among the affected individuals and communities as well as relevant public officials. It also recommends that the State party intensify labour inspections into those workplaces of high risk of forced and bonded labour, particularly in the informal economy sector, and investigate cases of labour discrimination and labour exploitation.
The scheduled castes (Dalits)
31. The Committee notes the State party’s statement that it does not recognize any discrimination among individuals on the basis of their belonging to a specific caste. It is however, concerned that the de facto existence of the scheduled castes (Dalits) and discrimination against them, particularly in the area of employment and education continue. The Committee is deeply concerned at the repeated reports on abduction of Dalit women and girls for the purpose of forced conversion to Islam and forced marriage. It regrets the lack of detailed information and data on the situation of Dalits in the State party (arts. 1, 2 and 5).
- Recalling its general recommendation No. 29 (2002) on article 1 of the Convention (Descent), the Committee recommends that the State party take measures necessary to end discrimination against Dalits, particularly in accessing employment and education. It urges the State party to take immediate action to end the forced conversion and forced marriage of Christian and Hindu Dalit women and to prosecute and punish the abductors with penalties commensurate with the gravity of the crime. CERD/C/PAK/CO/21-23 7 It requests the State party to include information on the situation of Dalit in the country, including relevant statistical data, in its next periodic report to the Committee.
IDSN and PDSN submitted an Alternative Report on Scheduled Black Children in Pakistan
The Concluding Observations contained several references to caste:
C. General principles (arts. 2, 3, 6 and 12 of the Convention)
(c). Widespread discrimination against children belonging to religious and ethnic minorities, children with disabilities, children born out of wedlock, children living in poverty, children of Dalit communities, children living in rural and remote areas and LGBT children.
19. The Committee urges the State party to take concrete measures to address and reduce the serious gender disparities and discrimination against girls prevailing throughout the State party. In particular, the Committee recommends that the State party take effective measures to review its legislation and practices in order to eliminate any gender disparities in entitlements for girls by comprehensive public education and awareness raising programmes to combat and prevent discrimination against girls, for local authorities, religious leaders, and judges and prosecutors and inform children, especially girls, about their rights under the Convention. Furthermore, the Committee reiterates its previous recommendation that the State party take all 55 appropriate measures, such as comprehensive public education programmes, to combat and prevent discrimination and negative societal attitudes and mobilize political, religious and community leaders to support efforts to eradicate traditional practices and attitudes which discriminate against children belonging to religious or other minority groups, children with disabilities, children living in poverty, children of Dalit communities, children living in rural and remote areas and LGBT children.
23. Right to life, survival and development The Committee urges the State party to take immediate measures to:
(b) Prevent and combat malnutrition, especially among vulnerable and disadvantaged groups of children such as children living in poverty, including Dalit children; Economic exploitation, including child labour
71. The Committee welcomes the legislative acts in Punjab and KP provinces which prohibit employment of children in certain hazardous occupations. The Committee however remains seriously concerned about:
(c) The continuous practice of bonded and forced labour affecting children from poor and vulnerable background, including Dalit children;
72. The Committee urges the State party to:
(c) Eradicate all forms of bonded and forced labour of children, in particular children from marginalized and disadvantaged groups such as Dalit children and bring those responsible, in particular employers, to justice;
- SCHEDULED CASTE WOMEN IN PAKISTAN – Denied a life in dignity and respect. Alternative report submitted by PDSN and IDSN to CEDAW for its review of Pakistan in Feb. 2013
- Website of the 54th session of the CEDAW Committee (incl. links to state and NGO reports)
- Cases of four Dalit women (prepared by PDSN for the purpose of the CEDAW report)
- News clippings of forced conversion cases (prepared by PDSN – 2012)
There are no specific references to scheduled caste women / Dalit women in the Concluding Observations, despite the comprehensive alternative report submitted on the issue for the examination. Many of the recommendations of the Committee are however very relevant to improve the situation of scheduled caste women and other minorities in Pakistan, and are therefore included in this compilation.
Relevant paragraphes include observations on:
- Temporary Special Measures (paras. 19+20a and 20b)
- Trafficking and exploitation of prostitution(paras. 23 + 24a)
- Participation in political and public life (paras. 25 + 26a)
- Employment(paras. 29 + 30a + 33 + 34a, b,and c)
- Refugee and internally displaced women and girls(Paras. 35 + 36c and d)
- Marriage and family relations(paras. 37+ 38 a, b, c, d, e and f)
A full overview of the Concluding observations CEDAW Pakistan
The UN Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination (CERD) considered the 10th, 11th, 12th, 13th, and 14th periodic reports of Pakistan and reviewed Pakistan at its 50th session in March 1997.
In the Concluding Observations (CERD/C/304/Add.25), the Committee notes among other things the following:
- 6. The information provided by the State party on minorities living in Pakistan, in response to questions asked during the consideration of the previous report, is welcomed by the Committee. It notes that the State party’s definition of minorities is based on the religious affiliation of the persons concerned and not on ethnic, racial or linguistic grounds. Although the Committee is aware that religious minorities as such do not fall under the scope of the Convention, it notes that religious differences may coincide with ethnic differences and therefore welcomes the institutions and measures that have been established to promote and protect minority rights, such as the Minorities Affairs Division, the National Commission for Minorities, the Federal Advisory Council for Minorities Affairs, the Districts Minority Committees, the National Committee on the Kalash People and the monthly holding of meetings with minority members of the National Assembly.
- 8. The repeal of the separate electoral system, which allowed members of minorities to vote only for certain reserved seats in elections, is welcomed. The fact that members of minorities are now entitled to participate directly in the general election process, in addition to electing their own representatives, is a positive development.
- 12. Concern is expressed that the policy of the State party to recognize only religious minorities excludes ethnic, linguistic or racial groups living in the country from any specific protection under the Convention that would derive from their official recognition as minorities.
- 13. The fact that the fundamental rights of citizens, irrespective of their race, religion, caste, sex, residence or place of birth, are guaranteed by the Constitution is welcomed, although it is stressed that article 1, paragraph 1, of the Convention is broader, in that it prohibits discrimination based on race, colour, descent, or national or ethnic origin.
- 18. It is regretted that there is not sufficient disaggregated information on the participation in public life as well as economic and social indicators, especially in connection with access to employment, housing, education and health, of the various ethnic, racial or linguistic groups living in the country, including non-citizens; this hampers the assessment of the progress made in the implementation of article 5 of the Convention.
- 25. The Committee, while appreciating the concern not to promote ethnic or group distinctions, suggests that the State party explore the possibility of granting the same status as that of the religious minorities to other ethnic and linguistic groups, to ensure their full protection under the national laws and institutions relating to minorities as well as relevant international human rights instruments.
The Committee recommends that the State party’s next periodic report be an updating report taking into account all requests for specific information listed above and all points raised in consideration of the report.
A comprehensive shadow report highlighting the issue of caste discrimination was prepared and submitted to the Committee by IDSN, TRDP, NCJP, PILER and Justice and Peace Netherlands.
- Joint NGO report for the UN Committee prepared by TRDP, NCJP, PILER and Justice and Peace Netherlands, submitted for the CERD review of Pakistan in January 2009
- Suggestions for inputs to list of issues prepared by IDSN (caste-based discrimination in Pakistan), submitted in October 2008
Read a full IDSN news article on this event can be found here
In the Concluding Observations the Committee addresses many of the concerns raised by NGOs, including the persistence of caste-based discrimination and bonded labour in Pakistan. In particular the Committee recommends the Government to take specific measures to eradicate this form of discrimination, and to make disaggregated statistical data regarding the ethnic composition of its population available in its reporting to the Committee. While all paragraphs in the Concluding Observations are relevant in this context, the following paragraphs make specific recommendations related to the issue of caste-based discrimination:
- 10. The Committee reiterates its recommendation that the State party broaden its understanding and constitutional definition regarding minorities, so as to take into account all the grounds of discrimination included in Article 1 (1) of the Convention. […]
- 11. Notwithstanding the existing legislation aimed at ensuring the principle of non-discrimination in the State party, the Committee reiterates its concern that no comprehensive anti-discrimination law has been adopted. It also expresses concern about the lack of information on concrete measures taken to implement the existing anti-discrimination laws and special measures, in spite of reports of persisting de facto discrimination against members of certain minority groups. (art. 2)
The Committee recommends that the State party adopt a comprehensive law on the elimination of discrimination on the grounds of race, colour, descent or national or ethnic origin, taking into consideration all elements of the Convention. It also wishes to receive detailed information on the measures taken to implement anti-discrimination legislation with a view to eliminating de facto discrimination.
- 12. While the Committee welcomes the steps taken by the State party to address caste-based discrimination, such as a range of development schemes and the appointment of a member of a scheduled caste as advisor to the Sindh Province Senate, it is concerned that the State party has not yet adopted a law prohibiting discrimination on the basis of caste. It is further concerned about the lack of information in the State party’s report on concrete measures taken to combat caste-based discrimination. The Committee is also concerned about the persisting de facto segregation of and discrimination against Dalits regarding their enjoyment of all economic, civil, political, and social rights (arts. 2, 3 and 5).
The Committee refers the State party to its General Recommendation 29 (2002), on descent-based discrimination, and recommends that the State party adopt legislation aimed at the prohibition of caste-based discrimination and take effective and immediate measures to ensure its effective implementation. The State Party is also invited to provide, in its next periodic report, statistical data on persons belonging to scheduled castes in the territory of the State party, including their enjoyment of all rights protected under Article 5 of the Convention.
- 21. While welcoming the steps taken to abolish the practice of bonded labour, including the adoption of the Bonded Labour System Abolition Act, the Committee is concerned about the persistent existence of bonded labour in the State party, which appears to be related to, inter alia, the unequal distribution of land. It also expresses concern that such practice mainly affects marginalized groups such as scheduled castes. (5 (e) (i) and (iv))
The Committee urges the State to intensify its efforts to implement the laws and programs adopted to put an end to bonded labour and discrimination against marginalized groups such as the scheduled castes. It further encourages the State party to carry out the national survey on this practice without delay and to continue cooperation with the International Labour Organization in combating this phenomenon.
The next 21st and 22nd periodic reports are to be submitted by the State Party on 4 January 2012.
Abstract from Concluding Observations
- 30. The Committee is concerned at the persistence of discriminatory societal attitudes and discrimination against children belonging to a religious or other minority group, children with disabilities, children living in poverty and children living in rural and remote areas.
- 31. The Committee recommends that the State party take all appropriate measures, such as comprehensive public education programmes, to combat and prevent discrimination and negative societal attitudes and mobilize political, religious and community leaders to support efforts to eradicate traditional practices and attitudes which discriminate against children belonging to religious or other minority groups, children with disabilities, and children living in poverty and in rural and remote areas.
- 41. While noting the many efforts made by the State party to promote timely birth registration, the Committee is concerned that more than 70 per cent of children are not registered at birth, especially girls, children belonging to a religious or minority group, refugee children and children living in rural areas. The Committee is further concerned at the practice of denying birth registration when parents cannot prove their citizenship.
- 42. The Committee recommends that the State party ensure the full implementation of measures taken to remove structural obstacles to birth registration, launch a mass cost-free birth registration campaign and simplify the procedures for birth registration in order to cover all persons in the country, regardless of sex, religion, status or nationality, in accordance with article 7 of the Convention. The Committee recommends that the State party harmonize birth registration systems across the country and consider linking the system with the National Registration Act 1973.
The Committee invites the State party to submit its fifth periodic report by 11 December 2012.
CRC Concluding Observations
The UN Committee on the Rights of the Child considered the second periodic report of Pakistan and issued concluding observations at the 34thsession held in October 2003
In the Concluding Observations (CRC/C/15/Add.217), the Committee notes among other things the following:
- 29. While acknowledging the actions taken to address discrimination against girls in education, the Committee is concerned at the persistence of discriminatory social attitudes and discrimination against minority children and against girls, early and forced marriages, low school enrolment and high dropout rates, honour killings, mutilation and violence. Furthermore, the Committee is concerned at the disparities in the enjoyment of rights and the social discrimination experienced by children belonging to the most vulnerable groups, including children with disabilities, children belonging to a religious or other minority group and children living in rural areas.
- 30. The Committee recommends that the State party: (a) Make greater efforts to ensure that, in accordance with article 2, all children within its jurisdiction enjoy all the rights set out in the Convention without discrimination, particularly girl children, children belonging to a religious or other minority group, children with disabilities and other vulnerable groups of children; and (b) Target social services at children belonging to the most vulnerable groups.