UN rights chief praises Pakistan's commitment to ensure respect for civil liberties

26 February 2003

The top United Nation human rights official today expressed satisfaction at Pakistan's stated commitment to a clear policy of ensuring respect for human rights in all spheres of public and private life.

At the end of his three-day visit to Pakistan, the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Sergio Vieira de Mello, also hailed the declaration by the country's new Parliament on its will to respect democratic values.

Throughout his visit, Mr. Vieira de Mello has drawn special attention to the need to promote and protect the rights of women. He has discussed women's rights with all the officials and civil society members with whom he spoke, praising the fact that women made up 21 per cent of the new Assembly and about 17 per cent of the Senate, and noting efforts to raise the level of female literacy and increase the number of girls in schools.

Still, the High Commissioner insisted on the need for Pakistan's Government to pursue its efforts to prosecute crimes against women, like honour killings. "There should be no tolerance for violence against women," he said.

Discussing anti-terror measures, he said that he understood very well the difficult situation faced by Pakistan, but stressed the need to fight terror while respecting the rule of law and civil liberties.


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