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Political Play
Zulfiqar Shah
United Nations, international law and rights of the people - III 10 December, 2016
Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (adopted UNGA Resolution 39/46 10 December 1984): Preamble of this Convention in Paragraph 2 and 3 mentions Article 55 of the Charter of the United Nations regarding UN member countries obligation for promoting "universal respect and observance of, human rights and fundamental freedoms", and also mentions Article 5 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, and Article 7 of the International Covenant of Civil and Political Rights that "no one shall be subjected to torture or to cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment".
Article 1 reads, “For the purpose of those Convention, the term “torture” means any act by which severe pain, suffering, whether physical or mental, is intentionally inflicted on a person for such purposes as obtaining from him or a third person information or a confession, punishing him for an act he or a third person has committed or is suspected of having committed, or intimidating or coercing him or third person has committed is suspected of having committed, or intimidating or coercing him or third person, or at the instigation of or with the consent or acquiescence of a public official or other person acting in an official capacity. It does not include pain only or suffering arising only from, inherent in or incidental to lawful sanctions”.

Article 2 (1) reads, “Each State Party (UN member country) shall take effective legislative, administrative, judicial or other measures to prevent acts of torture in any territory under its jurisdiction”. Article 2(2) reads, “No exceptional circumstances whatsoever, whether a state of war or a threat of war, internal political instability or any other public emergency, may be invoked as a justification of torture”. Article 2(3) reads, “An order from a superior officer or a public authority may not be invoked as justification of torture”.

Article 3 (1) of the Conventions mentions that none will be expelled or extradited from any country if possibility of torture against him / her exists in the country that demands extradition to. Article 3 (2) mentions that a UN member country’s gross human rights violation record is enough at least to determine that the person would be tortured if extradited.

Article 4 (1) reads “Each State Part (UN member country) shall ensure that all acts of torture are offense under its criminal law. The same shall apply to an attempt to commit torture and to an act by any person which constitute complicity or participation in torture”. Article 4 (2) reads, “Each State Party (UN member country) shall make these offences punishable by appropriate penalties which take into account their grave nature”.

Article 6 (1, 2, 3) is about the extradition of a Stateless persons/refugees, including those who are detained/in custody in which the nature of the matter, rights of the person and role of the country in which he or she stays becomes important for consideration. Under this article, other countries can also be requested by the person whose extradition is demanded. Even the extradition demands/detention demanding country’s jurisdiction also needs to be determent and a fact finding process also needs to be established in such cases.

Article 7 (3) is about guaranteed right to fair trial to the person who is victim of torture.

Article 8 is about an issue between two UN member countries. If someone commits act of torture under article 4, the person can be extradited if any extradition treaty exists between them.

Article 10 reads:

1. Each State Party shall keep ensure that education and information regarding the prohibition against torture are fully included in the training of law enforcing personnel, civil or military, medical personnel, public officials and other persons who may be involved in custody, interrogation or treatment of any individual subjected to any form of arrest, detention or imprisonment.

2. Each State Party shall include this prohibition in the rules or instructions issues in regard to the duties and functions of any such person.

Article 11 and 12 are regarding the arrangements as well as territory of custody, arrest torture, and related aspects including investigations. This also includes the obligation of the country (ies) to investigate if act of torture happens.

Article 13 is about the right to complaint by the persons who have been victim of the torture.

Article 14 is about fair and adequate compensation of the torture victims including their rehabilitation. In case of death in the torture, the inherent are entitled for compensation.

Article 15 says that any statement that has been taken / given due to torture is not evidence. Only the torture victims’ statement against those who tortured him or her will be considered as evidence.

In Article 16 UN member countries have undertaken to act in accordance with the Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment that also include aforementioned paragraphs, articles, and clauses.

Confidential inquiries under Article 20 of the Convention against Torture

UN member countries in Paragraph 1 of the Confidential inquiries under article 20 of the Convention against Torture have accepted that under article 20 of the Convention, the Committee (a UN committee to inquire torture) is empowered to carry out a confidential inquiry if it receives reliable information which appears to it to contain well-founded indication that torture is being systematically practiced is a State Party (UN member countries).

UN member countries have accepted the definition of torture by Committee in Paragraph 6 of Confidential inquiries under article 20 of the Convention against Torture that includes torture, habitual to torture, torturing with or without order or torture against the law / instructions by the Central government. It also mentions systematic torture which is gradual, organized, planned, and conspired for individual persons or for collective in any territory in a country.

Afghanistan, China, Equatorial Gunea, Eritrea, Israel, Fiji, Kuwait, Lao Peoples Democratic Republic, Mauritania, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Syrian Arab Republic, the United Arab Emirates and Vietnam have not recognised the above Committee; however Pakistan has accepted it and its definition and other details around it on 23 June 2013.

This Committee, after having reliable information can inquire about the torture confidentially, can visit the country or area/territory where torture has occurred. The Committee can visit any country in this regards anywhere excepting those countries that have not recognize it; however if these countries agrees, the Committee can visit there.

Besides, there exist some exceptional situations in which this can take place otherwise. This Committee works with reference to Article 20 of Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment. Please refer to article 20, which is about procedures of confidential inquiry and related matters.

Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of Crime of Genocide (adopted / enforcement 12 January 1951)

In Preamble of the Convention it is mentioned, “genocide is a crime under international law, contrary to the spirit and aims of the United Nations and condemned by the civilized world”.

Article 1 of the Convention signatory countries to this Convention confirms that “genocide, whether committed in time of peace or in time of war, is a crime under international law which they undertake to prevent and to punish”.

Article II is definition of genocide, which is “genocide by the means” of acts or “intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnic, racial, or religious group, as such:

a) Killing of members of group; b) causing serious bodily or mental harm to members of the group; c) Deliberately inflicting on the group conditions of life calculated to bring about its physical destruction in in whole or in part; d) Imposing measures intended to prevent births within the group; e) Forcibly transferring children of the group to another group;

Article III is about the acts that are punishable: a) Genocide b) conspiracy to commit genocide; c) Direct or public incitement to commit genocide; d) Attempt to commit genocide; and e) Complicity in genocide. Article IV reads, “Persons committing genocide or any kind of the other acts enumerated in article III shall be punished, whether they are constitutional rulers, public officials and private individuals”. . Although Pakistan has not ratified this Convention, Pakistan is obliged to Article II and III with reference to International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights Article 6 (1, 2, 3).

Article VIII of this Convention mentions that any signatory country can call upon concerned organ of the United Nations to take action against genocide under Charter of the United Nations.

International Convention on for the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearance (adopted through UNGA Resolution 47/133 of 18 December 1992)

In the context of Charter of United Nations and Universal Declaration of Human Rights, Paragraph 3 of Preamble in this Convention recalls, “the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and the other relevant international instruments in the fields of human rights, humanitarian law and international criminal law” regarding “enforced disappearance” (abduction).

UN member countries that have signed and/or ratified this Convention express their awareness of that the fact that enforced disappearance is extremely serious issue / matter, “which constitutes a crime, and in certain circumstances defines in international law, a crime against humanity”.

UN member countries that have signed and/or ratified this Convention considerate “the right of any person not to be subjected to enforced disappearances, the right of victims to justice and reparation”.

UN member countries that have signed and/or ratified this Convention affirms, “the right of any victim to know the truth about the circumstances of an enforced disappearance and the fate of the disappeared person, and the right to freedom to seek, receive, and impart information to this end.

Article 1 (1) reads, “No one shall be subjected to enforced disappearance”. Article 1 (2) reads, “No exceptional circumstances whatsoever, whether a state of war or a threat of war, internal political instability or any other public emergency, may be invoked as justification for enforced disappearance”.

Articles 2 reads “enforced disappearances is considered to be arrest, detention, abduction or any other form of deprivation of liberty by agents of the state, persons, or groups of persons acting with authorization, support or acquiescence of the state” in which fate or the whereabouts of the persons are unknown and are outside protection of law. According to Article 3 UN member countries are bound to “take appropriate measures” investigate against those who commit the crime of enforced disappearance. According to Article 4 UN member countries have to constitute enforced disappearance an offence under its criminal law.

According to Article 6 (1) UN member countries, “shall take the necessary measures to hold criminally responsible at least:

“(a) Any person who commits, orders, solicits or induces the commission, attempts to commit, in accomplice to or participates in an enforced disappearance”;

Simplified: (b) mentions that a superior (senior) who (i) knew about enforced disappearance, or commits enforced disappearance under his authority; (ii) although concerning but enforced disappearance happened; (iii) failed to take measures under his authority, and did not cooperated with concerned authorities in the investigations related to enforced disappearances.

Meanwhile in subparagraph (c) it is made especially obligatory for the military commanders will be liable under subparagraph aforementioned (b) in relevance to international law.

Article 7 is about UN members responsibilities to make enforced disappearance a punishable act in the law of the land; and will mitigate the circumstances which cause enforced disappearance.

Second Optional Protocol to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, aiming at the abolition of the death penalty (adopted through UNGA Resolution 44/128 of 15 December 1989)

In the light of Article 3 of Universal Declaration of Human Rights (adopted on 10 December 1948) and Article 6 of International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (adopted on 16 December 1996) this Protocol in Article 1 reads, “No one within the jurisdiction of a State Party to the present Protocol shall be executed”. The other articles of the protocol are about related procedure at United Nations.

Convention on Discrimination

Article 1 (3) of the Covenant obligates that UN member countries will not act regarding nationality, citizenship, or naturalization in a way that discrimination may happen against any nationality. For instance peopling of Sindh in which peoples from across federating-provinces in Pakistan and outside are being settled in Sindh. Entry and settlement of legal and illegal foreigners and immigrants as well as initiation of projects like Zulfiqarabad and Bahrya town are an example of this.

Article 1 (4) of the Convention is about advancement of racial and ethnic groups, their human rights and fundamental freedoms. Advancement here can be taken as an example for education, infrastructure development, exposure, and equal employment opportunities in the civil and military bureaucracy in the countries including Pakistan, where Sindh and Balochistan (as well as Siraiki) are almost non-existent in the various services.

In Article 2 (1) UN member countries ‘condemn discrimination’ and responsible for understanding among all races as well as will act against racial discrimination of persons, groups of persons or institutions and ensure all authorities will act in conformity with this Convention. Article 2 (b) mentions that UN member countries will “not sponsor, defend, or support racial discrimination by any person or organization”; (c) UN member countries review their policies at all tiers/levels and “rescind and nullify all laws and regulation” that cause racial discrimination; (d) UN member countries will prohibit all sorts of and means for racial discrimination; (e) UN members countries will encourage organizations and movements that strive for multi-cultural and integration. Article 2 (2) UN member countries will take concrete steps for protection of racial groups or individual and for their equal human rights as well as freedoms.

Article 3 reads, “State Parties particularly condemns racial segregation and apartheid and undertake to prevent, prohibit and eradicate all practices of this nature in territories under their jurisdiction”. For example, Siraiki, a ethnic-nation, are being apartheid on their historical land Siraiki, Sindhi and Baloch in Sindh and Balochistan by dominating ethnic-national Punjabi dominated all civil and military services and forces in Pakistan besides many other kinds of apartheid.

Article 4 (a) is about any act or propaganda by “one race or group of persons of colour or ethnic origin” on the basis of superiority will be eradicated by the UN member countries, which is embodied in Universal Declaration of Human Rights Article 5. Article 4 (a) racial, colour, and ethnic superiority of any kind and in all forms would be punishable offense. Article 4 (c) Any act, including propaganda, based on racial, colour, and ethnic superiority will be a punishable offense. Article 4 (c) “Public (government) authorities and public institutions, national or local,” are not permitted “to promote or incite racial discrimination”.

In Article 5 UN member countries guarantee the rights:

“(a) The right to equal treatment of before the tribunals and all other organs administering justice;

(b) The right to security of person and protection by the State against violence or bodily harm, weather inflicted by government officials or by any individual group institutions;

(c) Political rights, in particular the right to participate in elections-to vote and to stand for elections-on the basis of universal and equal suffrage, to take in the Government as well as in the conduct of public affairs at any level and to have equal access to public service;

Article 5 (c) should be viewed in the light of Article 1 (3), the plight of people of Sindh and Balochistan against peopling of Sindh can further be understood.

Geneva Convention relative to the Treatment of Prisoners of War (75, U.N.T.S 135 entered into force October 21, 1950)

This Convention Part I from Article 3 to 11 is regarding conflicts within a country in the context of enumerating rights for the prisoners of such conflicts/wars.

United Nations General Bodies (UNGA) Resolutions with reference to Outer Space

UNGA Resolution 1962 (XVIII) Declaration of Legal Principles Governing the Activities of States in the Exploration and Use of Outer Space is about mutual understanding and friendly relations among the nations and the people and recalls UNGA Resolution 110 (II) of November 3 1947 is against threat to peace, breach of the peace or act of aggression with reference to outer space. It is in sets forth the foundations on the Charter of United Nations.

Simultaneously, UNGA Resolution 41/65, “Principle Relating to Remote sensing of Earth from Outer Space” sets forth the basic principles of outer space with reference to nature, country to country, technological/technical and space - human/person relations. Besides, UNGA Resolution 37/92 Principles Governing the Use of States of Artificial Earth Satellite for International Direct Television Broadcasting are the fundamentals of use of space with reference to broadcasting, technology, countries and human relations.

This briefing of UN instruments/international instruments is meant to share the important and to greater extent simplified of international law/human rights law.

United Nations has a Committee for each Convention and Covenant and a procedure is mentioned in each of the instrument to communicate regarding rights and international law violation. Secretary General of United Nations functions from the UN Headquarters, New York There are some other organs / structures of the United Nations. Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) - Geneva for the rights violation. Its website has various procedures for submitting complaints/petitions/ cases. United Nations High Commissioner for Refugee (UNHCR) Headquarters are in Geneva United Nations Outer Space Affairs and other similar matter are at UN Vienna. There are other United Nations organs as well that can be searched through Google and other search engines.

Editorial NOTE: This article is categorized under Opinion Section. The views expressed in this article are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of In case you have a opposing view, please click here to share the same in the comments section.
About The Author
Zulfiqar Shah is a stateless activist, analyst, and researcher. Although he is a refugee, and living a life in exile, he is a born Sindhi and South Asian. Currently he lives in India.
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