ON THE ELIMINATION
OF RACIAL DISCRIMINATION
CONSIDERATION OF REPORTS SUBMITTED BY STATES
UNDER ARTICLE 9 OF THE CONVENTION
Concluding observations of the Committee on the
Elimination of Racial Discrimination
1. The Committee considered the tenth, eleventh, twelfth, thirteenth
and fourteenth periodic reports of Pakistan, submitted in one
document (CERD/C/299/Add.6), at its 1198th and 1199th meetings
(CERD/C/SR.1198 and SR.1199), held on 11 and 12 March 1997.
At its 1210th meeting, held on 19 March 1997, it adopted the
following concluding observations.
2. The Committee welcomes the opportunity to resume the dialogue
with Pakistan after a lapse of 10 years. The Committee notes
with appreciation that the report submitted by the State party
complies with its general guidelines and that it addresses the
recommendations made during the discussion of the previous report.
At the same time, the Committee is of the opinion that more
specific information is needed on the implementation of the
Convention and national laws in practice. The Committee also
welcomes the answers provided by the delegation in response
to comments made by its members.
3. The Committee notes that the State party has not made the
declaration provided for in article 14 of the Convention, and
some of its members requested that the possibility of such declaration
B. Factors and difficulties impeding the implementation
of the Convention
4. It is noted that Pakistan has a large multiethnic and multicultural
society. It is also noted that the extreme poverty of certain
groups in the population, the presence of 1.2 million Afghan
refugees and the climate of violence in certain parts of the
country may affect the full implementation of the Convention
by the State party.
C. Positive aspects
5. The completion of the democratic process, with the regular
holding of elections, is obviously a positive step towards better
protection of human rights in general and full compliance with
The information provided by the State party on minorities
living in Pakistan, in response to questions asked during
consideration of the previous report, is welcomed by the
Committee. It notes that the State party's definition of
based on the religious affiliation of the persons concerned
and not on ethnic, racial or linguistic grounds. Although
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,
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
the National Assembly.
7. The establishment of a Ministry of Human Rights is welcomed.
The active role played by the Commission on Human Rights in
identifying and criticizing human rights violations, including
those committed by the police and armed forces, is also welcomed
by the Committee.
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.
9. The direct participation in national elections, for the
first time since Pakistan's independence, of the inhabitants
of the Tribal Areas is also welcomed.
10. The extensive information in the report on the different
languages spoken in Pakistan is welcomed by the Committee, all
the more so since it may help in the gathering of future information
on the ethnic composition of the population during the Fifth
Population and Housing Census.
11. The detailed information on various measures taken and
campaigns launched by Pakistan with a view to promoting human
rights education and to raising people's awareness of their
rights and obligations, including those under the Convention,
as well as the envisaged incorporation of human rights education
in the school curricula, are welcomed.
D. Principal subjects of concern
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
The fact that the fundamental rights of citizens, irrespective
of their race, religion, caste, sex, residence or place
are guaranteed by the Constitution is welcomed, although
it is stressed that article 1, paragraph 1, of the Convention
broader, in that it prohibits discrimination "based on race,
colour, descent, or national or ethnic origin".
14. It is noted with regret that the report does not respond
to paragraph 8 of the Committee's general guidelines about the
supply of information on ethnic or racial origin. The lack of
such information makes it difficult to assess the situation
of the various ethnic groups in Pakistan and to evaluate the
practical impact and the effectiveness of the legislative and
other measures adopted by the authorities to implement the provisions
of the Convention.
15. It is noted with regret that no specific information is
provided on the laws and regulations concerning the Federally
Administered Tribal Areas and the North-West Frontier Province
as well as on the economic and social situation prevailing therein.
The lack of information on the implementation of article
4 of the Convention is regretted. Moreover, it is noted
the State party's legislation does not fully comply with
article 4 (b) of the Convention, which requires that "organizations,
and also organized and all other propaganda activities, which
promote and incite racial discrimination" be declared illegal,
and that "the participation in such organizations" shall
be declared an offence punishable by law.
There is insufficient information on article 5 (a) and
(b) of the Convention, and in particular whether everyone
the right to "equal treatment before the tribunals and all other
organs administering justice" and to "security of the person
and protection by the State against violence or bodily harm,
whether inflicted by government officials or by any individual
group or institution".
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.
19. It is unclear whether the various languages spoken in the
country can be used in the courts.
20. As there is no information on the legislative measures
adopted to implement article 6 of the Convention, the absence
of instances of judicial cases concerning acts of racial discrimination
cannot be accepted as a proof of the absence of such discrimination.
E. Suggestions and recommendations
21. The Committee recommends that in the future, attention
be paid to article 9, paragraph 1, of the Convention relating
to the undertaking by States parties to submit periodic reports
22. The Committee recommends that the State party's prohibition
of discrimination be brought into line with article 1, paragraph
1, of the Convention.
23. The Committee recommends that more information on the functions
and powers of the Ministry of Human Rights and the Commission
on Human Rights be provided in the State party's next periodic
24. The Committee recommends that specific information be provided
on the Federally Administered Tribal Areas and the North-West
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.
26. The Committee recommends that the State party include in
its next report information as available on the ethnic and racial
origin of the population in conformity with paragraph 8 of the
Committee's general guidelines.
27. The Committee recommends that information on the implementation
of article 4 of the Convention be provided in the next periodic
report. It also recommends that the necessary steps be undertaken
to give effect to article 4 (b) of the Convention in national
28. The Committee further recommends that comprehensive information
be provided in the next periodic report on the implementation
of article 5 of the Convention, with particular reference to
paragraphs (a), (b), (c) and (e).
29. The Committee recommends that the next periodic report
contain information on which of the main languages spoken in
Pakistan may be used in the courts and in relations with the
30. The Committee recommends that comprehensive information
be provided on legislative and other measures adopted by the
State party to comply with provisions of article 6 of the Convention
and on the availability of the right to seek from the courts
just and adequate reparation or satisfaction for any damage
suffered as a result of racial discrimination. The Committee
also recommends that instances of cases where reparation was
sought from the courts, together with the courts' decisions
thereon, be provided.
31. The Committee recommends that the State party, in its continuing
efforts in the field of human rights education and awareness,
continue to pay attention to the establishment of training programmes
aimed at familiarizing law enforcement officials, judges, magistrates,
teachers and social workers with the standards of the Convention.
In this respect, the Committee draws the attention of the State
party to its General Recommendations V (15), on reporting obligations
in relation to article 7 of the Convention, and XIII (42), on
the training of law enforcement officials in the protection
of human rights.
32. The Committee further recommends that the tenth to fourteenth
periodic reports of the State party, as well as the present
concluding observations, be publicized and widely disseminated
among the public at large.
33. The Committee recommends that the State party ratify the
amendments to article 8, paragraph 6, of the Convention adopted
at the 14th meeting of States parties.
34. 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.