Scoop has an Ethical Paywall
License needed for work use Register

World Video | Defence | Foreign Affairs | Natural Events | Trade | NZ in World News | NZ National News Video | NZ Regional News | Search


UN Experts Condemn Conviction Of Pakistan Human Rights Defender And Minority Activist Idris Khattak

GENEVA (15 December 2021) – UN human rights experts condemned today the reported conviction of leading human rights defender and minority civil society activist Idris Khattak, who was sentenced to 14 years imprisonment following an apparent unfair trial by a military court in Pakistan.

“Mr. Khattak’s reported sentencing is an attack against the human rights community in Pakistan and sends a chilling message to civil society activists monitoring and reporting on alleged violations, committed by the military and security forces or with their consent or acquiescence, such as systematic or widespread enforced disappearances," the independent experts said.

“Khattak and other human rights defenders and civil society leaders, including those belonging to the Pashtun minority, who have been arrested, or subjected to enforced disappearance for their human rights work or for the sole exercise of their rights to freedom of expression, of association or of peaceful assembly, must be immediately released,” the experts said.

Their families should be provided with reparations, truth and justice," they added, while stressing that those responsible for these abuses must also be held accountable.

Khattak, who has worked to defend the rights of the Pashtun minority in north-west Pakistan, including documenting enforced disappearances, was tried by a military court under the Pakistan Army Act and charged with espionage and other conduct “prejudicial to the safety or interests of the State”, including allegedly revealing information related to the military operations in 2009 in the region.

Advertisement - scroll to continue reading

Are you getting our free newsletter?

Subscribe to Scoop’s 'The Catch Up' our free weekly newsletter sent to your inbox every Monday with stories from across our network.

Khattak was reportedly sentenced in secret by the Field General Court Martial, and neither his family, nor his lawyer have been informed about the judgement.

“As a civilian, he should have been tried by a civilian court. It is the State’s obligation to ensure Mr. Khattak’s rights to a fair and public hearing by a competent, independent and impartial tribunal established by law," the experts said.

Khattak was abducted by security agents on 13 November 2019 in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province. He was subjected to seven months of enforced disappearance, exposing him to a high risk of torture. On 16 June 2020, authorities acknowledged he was being detained, without revealing his place of detention, and ever since he has been held incommunicado.

Over the past two years, Mr. Khattak had extremely limited contact with the outside world. His family has only been allowed to visit him twice, while his lawyer only met him twice before trial proceedings began.

"Mr. Khattak’s rights have been systematically violated during his detention and trial. Khattak’s detention and sentencing is part of an alarming pattern of silencing human rights defenders and outspoken civil society leaders through systematic abuse of counter-terrorism and security legislation, intimidation, secret detention, torture and enforced disappearance," the experts said.

“Authorities must disclose all details of Mr. Khattak’s case and immediately allow his family and lawyer unobstructed and regular access. Further, in addition to releasing him, we reiterate our call on Pakistan to ensure a prompt and impartial investigation into the abduction, enforced disappearance, and incommunicado detention of Mr. Khattak, and to hold those responsible to account for any violations of his human rights."

The experts have previously engaged with Pakistan authorities regarding the case of Mr Khattak.


The experts: Mr. Clément Nyaletsossi Voule, Special Rapporteur on the rights to freedom of peaceful assembly and of association; Ms Mary Lawlor, Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights defenders ; Ms. Irene Khan, Special Rapporteur on the promotion and protection of freedom of opinion and expression; Mr. Nils Melzer, Special Rapporteur on torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment; Mr. Fernand de Varennes RP, Special Rapporteur on minority issues Mr. Diego García-Sayán, Special Rapporteur on the independence of judges and lawyers; Ms. Fionnuala Ní Aoláin, Special Rapporteur on the promotion and protection of human rights and fundamental freedoms while counter-terrorism; Luciano Hazan (Chair-Rapporteur), Aua Baldé (Vice-Chair), Tae-Ung Baik, Gabriella Citroni, Henrikas Mickevičius, Working Group on Enforced or Involuntary Disappearances

© Scoop Media

Advertisement - scroll to continue reading
World Headlines

UN News: Aid Access Is Key Priority

Among the key issues facing diplomats is securing the release of a reported 199 Israeli hostages, seized during the Hamas raid. “History is watching,” says Emergency Relief Coordinator Martin Griffiths. “This war was started by taking those hostages. Of course, there's a history between Palestinian people and the Israeli people, and I'm not denying any of that. But that act alone lit a fire, which can only be put out with the release of those hostages.” More

Save The Children: Four Earthquakes In a Week Leave Thousands Homeless

Families in western Afghanistan are reeling after a fourth earthquake hit Herat Province, crumbling buildings and forcing people to flee once again, with thousands now living in tents exposed to fierce winds and dust storms. The latest 6.3 magnitude earthquake hit 30 km outside of Herat on Sunday, shattering communities still reeling from strong and shallow aftershocks. More

UN News: Nowhere To Go In Gaza

UN Spokesperson Stéphane Dujarric said some 1.1M people would be expected to leave northern Gaza and that such a movement would be “impossible” without devastating humanitarian consequences and appeals for the order to be rescinded. The WHO joined the call for Israel to rescind the relocation order, which amounted to a “death sentence” for many. More

Access Now: Telecom Blackout In Gaza An Attack On Human Rights

By October 10, reports indicated that fixed-line internet, mobile data, SMS, telephone, and TV networks are all seriously compromised. With significant and increasing damage to the electrical grid, orders by the Israeli Ministry of Energy to stop supplying electricity and the last remaining power station now out of fuel, many are no longer able to charge devices that are essential to communicate and access information. More


Join Our Free Newsletter

Subscribe to Scoop’s 'The Catch Up' our free weekly newsletter sent to your inbox every Monday with stories from across our network.