Pakistan Overview

Human rights defenders work in a hostile environment, where they often face arbitrary arrests, killings, harassment and intimidation by state and non-state actors operating mainly in conflict areas. With the rise of conservative sections of society, LGBTI groups face increasing levels of violence. The legal framework guiding the organisation of peaceful demonstrations does not comply with international standards as it requires authorisation to hold a protest and gives wide power to the authorities to ban public gatherings. In practice, security forces sometimes disperse protests by using excessive force and criminalise protests under the guise of anti-terrorism legislation. The Blasphemy Law is widely used against human rights defenders and journalists to curtail dissent. Media freedom remains restricted as journalists face high levels of violence and censorship, a situation which is set to worsen following the passing into law of the highly restrictive Prevention of Electronic Crimes Bill in August 2016.