Stop Impunity of Crimes Against Women

August 21, 2008

The International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH) is deeply shocked and condemns in the strongest terms the killing of five Pakistani women, including two minors, who were buried alive for having decided to marry men of their choice.

The five women were from the village of Baba Kot, Department of Jafferabad, in the province of Baluchistan (Southwest Pakistan) and members of the Umrani tribe. The three young women had decided to get married before a civil court in the town of Usta Mohammad, going against decision by members of their tribe. The two other women, who were older, were members of their families.

According to information collected by the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP), FIDH affiliated league in the country, their plan was discovered, and on and July 13, 2008, the five women were reportedly captured and transported in a car with provincial government plates to the desert by several men, including Mr. Abdul Sattar Umrani. the younger brother of Sadiq Ali Umrani, the Minister for Housing in the Baluchistan provincial government and a member of the ruling party. Having struck three of the young women, the men opened fire on them, seriously wounding them. They then covered their bodies with earth and stones, while they were still alive. The two other women there were also buried alive while they were trying to rescue the victims.

Today - more than a month after the fact - no investigation has been opened by the justice branch of Pakistan and no prosecution has been initiated against the alleged perpetrators. The provincial authorities refuse to recognize the facts, and have even launched a campaign of intimidation against the local population so that this crime goes unpunished.

FIDH requests the Pakistani government to conduct a thorough investigation, arrest the perpetrators, and try them before an independent tribunal and guarantee their right to a fair trial. FIDH supports the actions of its affiliated member, the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP) in favour of women%u2019s rights and calls on the authorities of the Islamic Republic of Pakistan to take urgent and concrete measures to end these medieval practices, which violate the most basic fundamental rights.

%u201CIt is intolerable that heinous crimes like this continue to be perpetrated with impunity in Pakistan. Each year, women of all ages are brutally murdered in the name of %u2018honour.%u2019 The Pakistani authorities must act immediately to ensure that officials are finally prosecuted and tried, and that such crimes will never recur,%u201D said Souhayr Belhassen, FIDH president.

We, the undersigned, fully support the FIDH's petition and urge to to
- immediately start investigations into the abduction and killing of five women in the province of Baluchistan
- take the murderers to justice and guarantee a fair trial and adequate punishment
- implement policies to combat violence against women
- provide better services to protect and council women under threat of gender-based violence.

We thank you in advance for your consideration and remain
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