HRCP criticises curbs on freedom of movement

LAHORE: The Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP) says it is concerned about putting activist Gulalai Ismail on the exit control list (ECL) and confiscation of her travel documents.

An HRCP press release says Ms Ismail was taken into custody in Islamabad on Oct 12 in connection with a first information report filed in August against 19 leaders of the Pashtun Tahafuz Movement (PTM) – including Ms Ismail –for participating in a public gathering in Swabi.

The press release says that “freedom of movement is an internationally accepted fundamental right. Ms Gulalai has alleged that her name was placed on the ECL for having participated in ‘anti-state activities’. This has become an expedient label for human rights defenders, particularly those associated with the PTM. The right to peaceful dissent – especially when this means articulating ‘uncomfortable’ truths about curtailed rights and freedoms – should not be branded routinely as “anti-state”.

“HRCP calls on the authorities to remove all restrictions on Ms Ismail’s freedom of movement and her other rights, and to avoid using the ECL as an arbitrary and often politically motivated tool to curb the work of human rights defenders in Pakistan.”