51% of human rights activists in KP receive threats: survey

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Lahore: An average of 51 per cent human rights activists working in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa receive threats because of their work, a nationwide survey conducted by human rights body Shirkat Gah revealed on Tuesday.

The survey was conducted under a project of Shirkat Gah ‘Securing Activists for Freedom & Empowerment of Women & Girls’ (SAFE) which aims to improve the enjoyment of rights by women and girls in Pakistan by enhancing the safety of individuals and organizations protecting these rights and the safety of women human rights defenders.

According to the report, total 908 human rights activists from all over the country filled the survey out of which 356 claimed of receiving a threat. 40 per cent human rights activists from Sindh, 34% from Punjab and 42% from Balochistan claimed of receiving a threat because of their work. The situation in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa was worst with 51 per cent activists receiving threats.

The report highlighted that the activists working on enforced disappearances received the most threats (53 per cent). 52 per cent of activists working on land rights, 50 per cent of activists working on minority rights, 47 per cent of activists working on human trafficking, and 42 per cent of activists working on child rights had received threats.

The threats range from different kind of harassment to death threats. 43 per cent of activists said that they were threatened to death for taking up an issue. 30 per cent of activists said that they were harmed physically while 67 per cent said that they were harassed.

‘Human rights activists are working within the law. They are receiving threats for their work which is legal. It is an alarming situation’, Shaheed said.

The survey report also highlighted that 40 per cent of the threats came from the influential person from the community, 32 per cent from religious militant groups, 25 per cent from local thugs, 23 per cent from law enforcement agencies, 20 per cent from political groups, 14 per cent from family and relatives, 10 per cent from mafias and 5 per cent from fellow human rights defenders.

Shirkat Gah is also developing a mobile app for the safety of human rights activists which they could use to issue an alert in case of threat.

MPA Seemabia Tahir, Neelum Hayat Malik, human rights activists and members of civil society were in attendance at the event, where Farida Shaheed, executive director of Shirkat Gah –  Women’s Resource Centre (SG) and Democratic Commission on Human Development (DCHD) presented the survey report.