GMedia Workshop on Media Empowerment on Human Rights in Parallel with the UN Human Rights Council Universal Periodic Review

28 October 2012; Gmedia welcomed 13 journalists from Pakistan and Sri Lanka for the second workshop on Media Empowerment on Human Rights, programme held in Geneva from October 28 to November 02, 2012 in parallel with the UN Human Rights Council Universal Periodic Review (UPR) in collaboration with Rural Media Network Pakistan (RMNP) and other partners.

Gmedia is a non-profit NGO based in Geneva Switzerland that partner with human rights and media organizations from countries most affected by human rights issues.

Sponsorship for eight journalists from Pakistan and five journalists from Sri Lanka  provided by the Swiss Federal Department of Foreign Affairs and Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC).

  1. First Day 29th Oct 2012

First Session; Introductory session

Glenn Barbeisch (Consultant) in the introductory session explained the working of Human Rights Council and UPR process. Journalists asked to introduce themselves and shared their expectation and gain from Gmedia.13 journalist from Pakistan and Srilanka enthusiastically participated in the session.

Second Session

Panellist: Ronald Chauville (UPR Info) explained the working of his organization named UPR Info and expressed the UPR processes, working and procedures.

Question and Answer Session

Third Session

Third Panellist: David Whaley discussed UPR recommendations and follow up followed by the practical insight on the UN system.

Question and Answer Session

  1. Second Day 30th Oct 2012

First Session

Rolando Gomez Public Information officer UN briefed the journalists about the UPR process and UN working procedures.

Second Session

Journalist of Pakistan and Srilanka attended the UPR session of Pakistan.

The fourteenth session of the United Nation Human Rights Council’s Universal Periodic Review (UPR) Working Group held at Geneva from 22 October to 5 November 2012. The Foreign Minister of Pakistan, Hina Rabbani Khar lead the delegation included Mr. Mustafa Nawaz Khokhar, Advisor to Prime Minister on Human Rights, Dr. Paul Bhatti, Advisor to Prime Minster on National Harmony, Mr. Riaz Fatyana, Chairman, National Assembly Standing Committee on Human Rights and Dr. Araish Kumar, MNA. Members of the delegation took the floor to respond to the comments and recommendations made by delegations as part of the review on a wide range of issues including the rights of women and children and minorities, independence of the judiciary and issues relating to the economic, social and cultural rights realization.

In the opening statement, the Foreign Minister said, “Pakistan’s resolve and committed to combat terrorism.” She termed the drone attacks as against international law and a complete violation of sovereignty of Pakistan.

Pakistan as the Chair of the OIC Group on Human Rights and Humanitarian Affairs in Geneva played very constructive role in building convergences between West and Islamic world on the most contentious and challenging issues in the Human Rights Council. She added that Pakistan welcomes the engagement with the international community through an open and constructive dialogue on its human rights record in line with the provisions identified in the Institution Building Package. She said that the reporting period (2008 to 2012) was the most challenging in terms of security situation, terrorism and the economy, apart from natural calamities.

She said that in April 2010, Parliament unanimously passed the 18th Amendment to the Constitution, addressing the many imbalances of power that had entered the legislative framework at the behest of military governments. Among the key features of the 18th Amendment is its strengthening of human rights guaranteed under the Constitution. The Right to Education (Article 25A), Right to Information (Article 19A) and Right to Fair Trial (Article 10A) are now recognized as fundamental rights, which cannot be suspended.

The Foreign Minister said consistent with its longstanding commitment to promote and protect human rights, Pakistan ratified the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) and Convention against Torture (CAT) in June 2010.

In August 2011, Pakistan ratified the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities and the Option Protocol to the Convention on the Rights of the Child on the Sale of Children, Child Prostitution and Child Pornography. Foreign Minister Khar also added that Pakistan ratified seven out of nine core international human rights treaties. Joining these international human rights instruments demonstrates Pakistan’s commitment to international human rights standards. She thanked the “Troika” comprising Chile, China and Congo for facilitating Pakistan’s review.

The group of States reviewed by the UPR Working Group during this session are the Czech Republic, Argentina, Gabon, Ghana, Ukraine, Guatemala, Benin, the Republic of Korea, Switzerland, Pakistan, Zambia, Japan, Peru and Sri Lanka. The meeting took place in Room XX at the Palais des Nations in Geneva.

The UPR is a four-year cyclical mechanism of the Human Rights Council, which is based on equal treatment for all countries. The mechanism involves discussions and review of the steps taken and efforts made by all 192 member states of the United Nations, in order to promote and protect human rights in their respective countries. Under this mechanism, all UN Member States are afforded an opportunity to present their national reports once every four years (48 member states each year). Recommendations are given by the member countries and the assessment is done by the troika, a group of three countries for the country under review.

Third Session

Topic: Three Panels separately discussed the UN treaty bodies, Special procedures and Role of NGOs.

Diego De Leon (RIDH), Peggy Brett (CCPR), Leon Saltiel (UN Watch)

  1. Third Day 31st Oct 2012

First Session

Topic:Discussion on human rights defenders, challenges, experience sharing and feedback

Julia De Blaauw (GHRD), Anchelita Gowri (GHRD), Naveed Walter (HRFP)

Second Session

Side event organized by Gmedia and Minority Rights Groups on Pakistan

Panel; Shoba Daas, Durre Shahwar, Ronald Chauville, Arshad Mehmood, Zulfiqar Shah

Comments, Detailed Question and Answer Session

  1. Fourth Day 1st Nov 2012

First Session

Topic: Discussion on Special issues of media and Human rights, Human rights defenders, Reporting and experience sharing on freedom of expression on the internet

Panelists; Helene Sackstein (RSF), Gerald Staberock (OMCT), Irina Schoulgin Nyoni (Swedish Permanent Mission)

Second Session

Topic: Human Rights situation in Pakistan and Sri Lanka, Journalists issues ,threats and challenges

Meeting with FDFA, Luckas Schurch (FDFA), Davide Vignati (FDFA), Damiano Sguaitamatti (FDFA)

Third Session

Meeting with UNHCR discussion on the condition and status of refugees of Srilanka and Pakistan by Babar Baloch communication officer UNHCR


Evaluation forms, Interviews and feedback sessions conducted to assess the workshop’s discussants / panellist imparted information to improve the upcoming workshop accordingly.

Author:  Hayyam Qayyum

RMNP nominee & female journalist, Islamabad

Hayyam 1

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