Pakistan Country Guide

The Pakistan Country Guide was produced by the Danish Institute for Human Rights (DIHR) and the Pakistan Institute of Labour Education and Research (PILER).

The Country Guide is a compilation of publicly available information from international institutions, local NGOs, governmental agencies, businesses, media and universities, among others. International and domestic sources are identified on the basis of their expertise and relevance to the Pakistani context, as well as their timeliness and impartiality.

The initial survey of publicly available, international sources was carried out by DIHR from October to December 2014. The draft was then updated and localized by PILER, including stakeholder consultation, from January to March 2015.

The completed Country Guide aims to provide a comprehensive overview, on the basis of the information available, of the ways in which companies do or may impact human rights in Pakistan. The current Country Guide is not meant as an end product, or a final determination of country conditions. It is intended to be the basis, and the beginning, of a process of dissemination, uptake and modification.

DIHR and PILER seek further engagement with local stakeholders, and intend to update the Country Guide on that basis.

Read the Pakistan Country Guide here

Read the full Country Guide here

News Feed

Climate change lawsuits on the rise as science improves & more climate-related laws & policies are passed

3 Nov 2017 — [subscription required]  " New Green Advocate: Climate change lawsuits ", 2 Nov 2017 As policymakers prepare for the annual UN climate pow-wow in Germany...activists who think too little is being done to meet that goal are turning to the courts. Cases where the negative effects of carbon emissions are central, not tagged on to more direct environmental damage, such as oil spills or the release of noxious chemicals, are on the rise.  ... [T]he Grantham Institute...has found 64 such cases in countries other than America in the past 15 years.  ...The targets are governments, which campaigners argue are doing too little to avert climate change, and big energy firms, which they hold responsible for most greenhouse-gas emissions. ...The legal obstacles are formidable. [M]any courts have peremptorily dismissed climate lawsuits as groundless...[I]t is hard to establish a causal link between a country’s or company’s emissions and the damage wrought by greenhouse gases. Singling out one among countless emitters is a stretch. Even so, the occasional case succeeds. ...The prospect for climate-friendly verdicts is improving...[because of] the growing volume of climate-related commitments for which governments can be held to account [and] advances in climate science. Globally, the number of national climate-change laws and policies has swelled from around 60 in 1997 to nearly 1,400. A survey in 2012 found that 177 countries had laws, regulations or court rulings guaranteeing the right to a clean or healthy environment. In at least 92 that right was constitutional.  ...The Paris accord is playing a role...[P]laintiffs can assess governments’ and firms’ actions against the 2°C goal. ...Scientists are increasingly confident that they know roughly what shares of the greenhouse gases in the atmosphere were emitted by individual countries, and even by the biggest corporate polluters.  ...Scientists are also becoming more willing to blame carbon emissions, not just for global warming, but for specific natural disasters such as heatwaves, floods and superstorms. But so far no plaintiff has been awarded damages on the basis of such attribution arguments. ...Plaintiffs are also using established legal arguments, albeit in novel ways—alleging, for instance, that rising sea levels caused by companies’ carbon emissions constitute trespass on county land. They are learning from one another. A lawsuit modelled on Urgenda’s is under way in Belgium. ...Defendants, for their part, usually argue that, whatever the climate science or the harms caused by greenhouse gases, they are simply not liable. [Also refers to BP, Chevron, ExxonMobil, Royal Dutch Shell and RWE]

Abuses in leather industry prompt investors’ call to add labour compliance to industry audits

4 Oct 2017 — In a letter to the Leather Working Group, 62 institutional investors cite pervasive labor violations in a call for broadening scope to include labor as well as environmental due diligence at tanneries... While the LWG currently tracks company performance on environmental risks such as water pollution that are endemic in leather production, there is currently no audit protocol for labor concerns...  The investors argue that the industry is exposed to serious and systemic social risks including labor rights violations such as forced and child labor, wage theft and worker exposure to hazardous chemicals in the tanning process that need to be managed by sector-specific protocols like the Leather Working Group. In their letter, the investors cite two reports, Transparentem’s in-depth investigation of conditions at tanneries in Hazaribagh, Bangladesh and KnowTheChain’s report, “How footwear companies and luxury brands tackle forced labor risks in their leather supply chains,” both of which highlight pervasive hazardous working conditions and child labor in leather processing in a number of countries including, Bangladesh, China, India and Pakistan.

Global businesses can achieve social impact, better reputation & increase brand loyalty by including refugees, says report

29 Sep 2017 — "Global Business and Refugee Crises: A Framework for Sustainable Engagement," September 2017 ...Global businesses can make unique and valuable contributions to refugee response by engaging refugees not as aid recipients, but as employees, producers, investees, and customers. The position of global enterprises as market leaders, policy influencers, and innovators gives them distinctive capacities for engagement and advocacy that do not exist within the traditional refugee response community. By including refugees in their core business activities, global enterprises can achieve social impact, gain reputational benefits, and build brand loyalty, while maintaining or enhancing their bottom line.  Global businesses can sustainably increase their engagement with refugees by: Including refugees in hiring and supply chains. Global companies can advance their businesses and improve refugees’ capacity for self-reliance by creating targets or incentives around hiring refugees as employees, sourcing from refugee-owned businesses, and sourcing from businesses that employ significant numbers of refugees. Impact investing for refugee livelihoods. Global investment firms can improve refugee livelihoods and achieve financial returns by investing in companies that hire and source from refugees, refugee-owned small and medium-sized enterprises, social enterprises, and development impact bonds.  Developing goods and services to meet refugee needs. In targeted areas such as financial services, global businesses can potentially reach refugees as customers by adapting their goods, services, and delivery systems... [refers to Airbnb, Ikea, MasterCard, Orange, Pearson, Starbucks, Safeway, and Western Union]

New report highlights reprisals faced by human rights defenders who cooperate with UN

26 Sep 2017 — "Report highlights rising reprisals against human rights defenders cooperating with the UN", 20 Sep 2017 A major new UN report warns that a growing number of human rights defenders around the world are facing reprisals for cooperating with the UN on human rights... The report... names 29 countries where cases of reprisal and intimidation have been documented...  All the cases highlighted in the report occurred from June 2016 to May 2017 and involved individuals and groups which have cooperated with the UN...“It is frankly nothing short of abhorrent that, year after year, we are compelled to present cases of intimidation and reprisals carried out against people whose crime – in the eyes of their Governments – was to cooperate with UN institutions and mechanisms,” said UN Assistant Secretary-General for Human Rights Andrew Gilmour. “We are aware of cases where individuals we are communicating with have been abducted, detained, held incommunicado, or disappeared,” he added... Gilmour also expressed deep concern over the ongoing situation of a Bahraini human rights defender, Ms. Ebtesam Abdulhusain Ali Alsaegh, who “has reportedly been beaten and sexually assaulted, and remains in detention”... The report urges all States to stop reprisals, investigate existing allegations, provide effective remedies and adopt and implement measures to prevent recurrence.  

Pakistan: Women cotton pickers face widespread health problems due to pesticide exposure

13 Sep 2017 — "Women pickers toil unprotected in Pakistan's cotton fields", 10 Sept 2017 ...Women labourers make up the bulk of the estimated half a million cotton pickers in Pakistan, the world's fourth biggest cotton producer. With the widespread use of pesticides, and a lack of safety equipment, Batool's story is familiar to many of them. Pakistan's government and provincial authorities say they are taking steps to ensure the use of safety gear, but women's rights groups say nothing is done when farm owners don't comply... There are two laws dating back to the 1970s governing pesticide use and ensuring health protection of farm workers from possible exposure to pesticides. Former federal agriculture minister, Nazar Gondal, said they were poorly enforced...

Cereal, drinks companies often overlook risk of forced labor in sugarcane: study

31 Aug 2017 — Food and beverage companies face the risk of forced labor in countries where they obtain sugarcane but most fall short in efforts to tackle the problem that threatens millions of workers, according to a study [by KnowTheChain (KTC)]...Sugarcane...can be found in a list of household foods and beverages...and is often harvested by rural migrant workers with machetes who work long hours for low wages in hazardous conditions... The companies studied were Coca-Cola Co., Fomento Economico Mexicano S.A.B de C.V (FEMSA), Monster Beverage Corp., PepsiCo Inc., The Hershey Co., Mondelēz International Inc., Nestlé S.A., Archer Daniels Midland Co., Associated British Foods plc plc (ABF) and Wilmar International Ltd. PepsiCo, Coca-Cola, Nestlé and ABF were the only four companies to undertake forced labor risk assessments of sugarcane supply chains in specific countries, the study said.

KnowTheChain case study: How food and beverage companies tackle forced labour risks in sugar supply chains

29 Aug 2017 — This case study assesses how a sample of 10 chocolate and confectionary manufacturers, beverage companies, and sugar producers address forced labour risks in their sugarcane supply chains. The study follows KnowTheChain’s first food and beverage benchmark, which found a lack of transparency and adequate action to address forced labor in commodity supply chains such as sugarcane. Findings include:  Only a small group of companies have assessed risks and set targets to eradicate forced labor in their supply chains, and all companies in the study need to improve. Workers have few ways to air grievances and no company was able to provide a concrete example of remedy provided to workers when wronged. All companies should take concrete follow-up steps at the country level. However, we found steps taken at that level are limited. PepsiCo, Coca-Cola, Nestlé, and ABF are the only companies making efforts to understand and assess forced labour risks in their sugarcane supply chains at the country level.  All companies disclose where at least some parts of their sugarcane supply chains are located. Coca-Cola discloses a map that highlights all sourcing countries for its key commodities. However, the company did not follow through on its commitment from 2013 to disclose the names of all its direct sugarcane suppliers within three years. Wilmar is the only company that discloses a list with names and addresses of its sugar suppliers. Additional background on the case study can be found here. 

Investigation finds luxury yachts are used to smuggle migrants into EU; 8 Ukrainian smugglers arrested in Italy

21 Aug 2017

Coal production persists in Asia despite negative impacts on health & agriculture

9 Aug 2017 — "The uncertain death of king coal," 7 August 2017 While renewable energy has seen some important improvements of late, current trends show the persistence of coal in Asia’s energy future... After three years of declining coal production, China has suddenly seen a rise in both its production and consumption... [while] the rest of Asia is also caught in the midst of a strange debate where the death of coal is being celebrated while... official consensus seems to be that coal will continue to be a large part of future plans... China [has] defined the access to electricity as a form of basic “human right” that the state needed to give to its citizens... India has echoed similar sentiments, with its government promising to bring electricity to all its citizens... In Bangladesh, the government is also pledged to bring electricity to all its citizens, even if it has to increase electricity generation from coal to more than half of its total generation, compared to a current 1.6 per cent...The rush to coal in Asian countries reflects these three concerns: political pressure to provide energy, reliability of supply, and profits... [In India] despite a best case scenario of over 40 per cent of energy generation through renewables by 2040 coal would remain one of the main generators of energy... [contributing to] an increase in premature deaths... [and] agriculture productivity loss... In Pakistan, a seven year old girl has sued the Pakistani government in the country’s Supreme Court over the costs of pollution, while in India, a nine year old one has done the same. It is only when these factors are properly calculated that the cost of coal will become obvious, and push Asia towards healthier, and truly more economic, alternatives in the quest of providing a better life to the people living here.

So. Asia: Hazardous ship graveyards - workers facing precarious conditions

2 Aug 2017