Passutimes-Curbing the freedom of expression in GB

The fundamental rights guaranteed in GB Governance order 2009. By: Israruddin Israr

The fundamental rights guaranteed in GB Governance order 2009.

By: Israruddin Israr

Universally there are two mechanisms of human rights one is international another is national. Every member state of United Nations has some international obligations. To fulfil those obligations every state endures an international mechanism and adopts the universally accepted international instruments of human rights and makes efforts to harmonizes them with its national laws.  Once an international convention is signed and ratified then the state faces accountability in United Nations Organization through a process which is called universal periodic review (UPR). The UPR of each member state of UNO is held after every four years.  It is the discretion of a state whether it accepts those conventions or not. Owing to some compulsions regarding to gain the international support in its foreign affairs usually a state gets ready to sign and ratify those conventions and makes a promise with the international community to harmonize those international conventions with its national law. That’s how a state faces UPR, submits progress report on the state of Human Rights in its jurisdiction and meanwhile faces the criticism and receives the recommendations of international community and makes a promise to ensure the implementation on those recommendations till the submission of next progress report after four years. The UPR is associated with international aid and support of world community to a state that’s why developing and under developed countries usually pay special attention to those obligations. On the other side the citizens can demand from the state to accept any international convention and harmonize it with the national law so that they would be able to claim those rights from their native state. It should be clear that a state is bound to protect all those rights which are guaranteed in its constitution and national laws. If a state fails to protect the fundamental rights then citizens can raise voices, send reminders to the concern authorities and file petitions to get those rights.  Every nation state has its own human rights mechanism, the constitution of state is a basic document which guarantees the fundamental rights of citizens. Majority of the states in the world teach the fundamental rights in their curriculum but in Pakistan the constitution is not taught except in the discipline of political science at graduation level. Even some countries don’t confirm the citizen ship if the citizens don’t go through the constitution. But here in Pakistan the majority people don’t know about their rights guaranteed in the constitution. There is confusion in the case of GB; people here believe that they are deprived of the constitution that’s why how can they claim their fundamental rights? Yes they are true regarding the right to representation in the parliament of Pakistan but still they are entitled the most of the rights which are guaranteed by the constitution of Pakistan.  Although Gilgit Baltistan doesn’t not fall in the ambit of constitution of Pakistan but the area is under the administrative control of Pakistan that’s why the state has introduced an executive order as a substitute of constitution to run the affairs of the area.  PART. II of that executive order guarantees the FUNDAMENTAL RIGHTS, of the citizens of the Gilgit Baltistan. Most of the rights guaranteed by the constitution of Pakistan have been included in the order. It starts from the article 3 of the GB empowerment and self-Governance order 2009 e.g.

  1. Security of person: – No person shall be deprived of liberty save in accordance with law.
  2. Safeguard as to arrest and detention.- (1) No person who is arrested shall be detained in custody without being informed, as soon as may be, of the grounds for such arrest, nor shall he be denied the right to consult and be defended by a legal practitioner of his choice. (2) Every person who is arrested and detained in custody shall 3 be produced before the nearest Magistrate within a period of twenty four hours of such arrest excluding the time necessary for the journey from the place of arrest to the Court of the Magistrate, and no such person shall be detained in custody beyond the said period without the authority of a Magistrate. (3) Nothing in Clauses (1) and (2) shall apply to any person- (a) who for the time being is an enemy alien, or (b) who is arrested or detained under any law providing for preventive detention. (4) No law providing for preventive detention shall authorize the detention of a person for a period exceeding three months unless the review board set up by the Government has reported before the expiration of the said period of three months that there is, in its opinion, sufficient cause for such detention. (5) When any person is detained in pursuance of an order made under any law providing for preventive detention, the authority making the order shall as soon as may be, communicate to such person the grounds on which the order has been made, and shall afford him the earliest opportunity of making a representation against the order: Provided that the authority making any such order may refuse to disclose facts which such authority considers it to be against the public interest to disclose.
  3. Slavery and forced labour prohibited. – (1) No person shall be held in slavery and no law shall permit or in any way facilitate the introduction into Gilgit-Baltistan of slavery in any form. (2) All forms of forced labour are prohibited. (3) Nothing in this clause shall be deemed to affect compulsory service- (a) by persons undergoing punishment for offences under any law; or (b) required by any law for a public purpose.
  4. Protection against retrospective punishment.- No law shall authorize the punishment of a person- 4 (a) for an act or omission that was not punishable by law at the time of the act or omission; or (b) for an offence by a penalty greater than, or of a kind different form, the penalty prescribed by law for that offence at the time the offence was committed.
  5. Freedom of movement.- Subject to any reasonable restrictions imposed by law in the public interest, every citizen shall have the right to move freely throughout the Gilgit-Baltistan and to reside and settle in any part thereof.
  6. Freedom of assembly.- Every citizen shall have the right to assemble peacefully and without arms, subject to any reasonable restrictions imposed by law in the interest of morality or public order.
  7. Freedom of association.- (1) Subject to this Order, every citizen shall have the right to form association or unions, subject to any reasonable restrictions imposed by law in the interest of morality or public order. (2) No person or political party in the area comprising Gilgit Baltistan shall propagate against, or take part in activities prejudicial or detrimental to the ideology of Pakistan.
  8. Freedom of trade, business or profession.- Every citizen possessing such qualifications, if any, as may be prescribed by law in relation to his profession or occupation shall have the right to enter upon any lawful profession or occupation, and to conduct any lawful trade or business: Provided that nothing in this Article shall prevent- (a) the regulation of any trade or profession by a licensing system; or (b) the regulation of trade, commerce or industry in the interest of free competition therein; or (c) the carrying on, by Government or the Council, or by a corporation controlled by Government or the Council, of any trade, business, industry or service, to the exclusion, complete or partial, or other persons. 5
  9. Freedom of speech.- Every citizen shall have the right to freedom of speech and expression, subject to any reasonable restrictions imposed by law in the interest of the security of area Gilgit Baltistan, public order, decency or morality, or in relation to contempt of Court, commission of, or incitement to an offence.
  10. Freedom of religion.- Subject to law, public order and morality- (a) every citizen has the right to profess and practice his religion; and (b) every religious denomination and every sect thereof has the right to establish, maintain and manage its places of worship.
  11. Safeguard against taxation for purposes of any particular religion.- No person shall be compelled to pay any special tax the proceeds of which are to be spent on the propagation or maintenance of any religion other than his own.
  12. Safeguard as to educational institutions in respect of religion etc.- (1) No person attending any educational institution shall be required to receive religious instructions or take part in any religious ceremony, or attend religious worship, if such instruction, ceremony or worship relates to a religion other than his own. (2) No religious community or denomination shall be prevented from providing religious instruction for pupils of that community or denomination in any educational institution maintained wholly by that community or denomination. (3) No citizen shall be denied admission to any educational institution receiving aid from public revenues on the ground only of race, religion, caste or place of birth. (4) In respect of any religious institution, there shall be no discrimination against any community in the granting of exemption or concession in relation to taxation. (5) Nothing in this paragraph shall prevent any public authority from making provision for the advancement of any society or (6) educationally backward class.
  13. Provisions as to property.- Subject to any reasonable restrictions imposed by law in the public interest, every citizen shall have the right to acquire, hold and dispose of property.
  14. Protection of property.- (1) No person shall be deprived of his property save in accordance with law. (2) No property shall be compulsorily acquired or taken possession of save for a public purpose, and save by the authority of law which provides for compensation therefor and either fixes the amount of compensation or specifies the principles on which and the manner in which compensation is to be determined and given. (3) Nothing in this clause shall, affect the validity of- (a) any law permitting the compulsory acquisition or taking possession of any property for preventing danger to life, property or public health; or (b) any law relating to the acquisition, administration or disposal of any property which is or is deemed to be evacuee property under any law; or (c) any law permitting the taking over of any property which has been acquired by, or come into the possession of, any person by any unfair means, or in any manner, contrary to law ; or (d) any law providing for the taking over of the management of any property by the Government for a limited period, either in the public interest or in order to secure the proper management of the property, or for the benefit of its owner; or (e) any law providing for the acquisition of any class of property for the purpose of- (i) providing education and medical aid to all or any specified class of citizen; or (ii) providing housing and public facilities and services such as roads, water supply, sewerage, gas and electric power to all or any specified class of citizen; or (iii) providing maintenance to those who, on account of unemployment, sickness, infirmity or old age, are unable to maintain themselves; or 7 (f) any law in force immediately before the coming into force of this Order. Explanation.- In clauses (2) and (3), the expression ‘property’ means immovable property, or any commercial or industrial undertaking, or any interest in any undertaking.
  15. Equality of citizens.- All citizens are equal before law and are entitled to equal protection of law.
  16. Non-discrimination in respect of access to public places.- In respect of access to places of public entertainment or resort, not intended for religious purposes only, there shall be no discrimination against any citizen on the ground only of race, religion, caste, sex or place of birth, but nothing herein shall be deemed to prevent the making of any special provision for women.
  17. Safeguard against discrimination in services.- No citizen otherwise qualified for appointment in the services of areas comprising Gilgit-Baltistan shall be discriminated against in respect of any such appointment on the ground only of race, religion, caste or sex: Provided that, in the interest of the said service, specified posts or services may be reserved for members of either sex.

Some important rights which are guaranteed in constitution of Pakistan but those are missing in the Gilgit Baltistan empowerment and self-Governance order 2009 are as follow.

Article 9 of the constitution of Pakistan is about the Security of person, which stats as, “No person shall be deprived of life or liberty saves in accordance with law”.

Article 10 A of the constitution of Pakistan is about the Right to fair trial, which states as “For the determination of his civil rights and obligations in any criminal charges against him a person shall be entitled to a fair trial and due process.

Article 13 of the constitution of the Pakistan is about the protection against double punishment and self-incrimination states as “no person (a) shall be prosecuted for the same offence more than once: 0r (b) shall, when accused of an offence, be compelled to be a witness against himself.”

Article 14 of the constitution of Pakistan is about the inviolability of dignity of man, etc. “(1) the dignity of man and, subject to law, the privacy of home, shall be inviolable. (2) No person shall be subjected to torture for the purpose of extracting evidence”.

Article 25/A of constitution of Pakistan is about the Right to education, states as.
“The State shall provide free and compulsory education to all children of the age of five to sixteen years in such manner as may be determined by law”.

Article 19/A of the constitution of Pakistan is guarantees the Right to information and states as “
Every citizen shall have the right to have access to information in all matters of public importance subject to regulation and reasonable restrictions imposed by law”.

Article 28 is about the preservation of language, script and culture and states as “Subject to article 251 any section of citizens having a distinct language, script or culture shall have the right to preserve and promote the same and subject to law, establish institutions for the purpose.

The Gilgit Baltistan assembly should demand from the federal Govt. to include the remaining rights of constitution of Pakistan which are missing in the GB empowerment and self-Governance order 2009, whereas every educated citizen of GB should have knowledge about above mentioned rights which have been guaranteed in the GB empowerment and self-Governance order 2009. So that if they notice any violation of those rights they would be able to send reminders to the concern authorities, raise voices and file petitions for the protection of those rights with the reference of Empowerment and self-Governance order 2009.

The writer is a Gilgit based freelance journalist, columnist and human rights activist. He can be reached on israrjpc2004@yahoo.com

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