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

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

"Defenders of the Earth: Global killings of land and environmental defenders in 2016"

18 Jul 2017 — In 2016, at least 200 land and environmental  defenders were murdered – the deadliest year on record. Not only is this trend growing, it’s spreading – killings were dispersed across 24 countries, compared  to 16 in 2015. With many killings unreported, and even less investigated, it is likely that the true number is actually far higher... This tide of violence is driven by an intensifying fight for land and natural resources, as mining, logging, hydro-electric and agricultural companies trample on people and the environment in their pursuit of profit. As more and more extractive projects were imposed on communities, many of those who dared to speak out and defend their rights were brutally silenced...[G]lobally, governments and companies are failing in their duty to protect activists at risk...Investors, too, are fuelling the violence by backing projects that trash the environment and trample human rights... [They] are failing to tackle the main root cause  of the attacks: the imposition of projects on communities without their free, prior and informed consent...Criminalisation tends to be used as a tactic when governments and business collude to prioritise shortterm profit over sustainable development. Over the course of 2015 and 2016 the Business and Human Rights Resource Centre documented at least 134 criminalisation cases of this type.

KiK signs "Accord on Building and Fire Safety"; new agreement to focus on strengthening labour rights & transparency in the textile chain

29 Jun 2017 — The textil discount KiK has signed the new edition of the "Accord" fire protection and building agreement in Bangladesh. The Westphalian company is therefore one of the first signatories to the new agreement, which will enter into force on 31 May 2018. The aim of the "Bangladesh Accord on Building and Fire Safety" is to continue the measures to improve the protection of buildings and fire in the textile factories of the country after the collapse of Rana Plaza... [T]he next period will focus on strengthening social dialogue and freedom of association... The new agreement expires on 31 May 2021 and may be extended by a maximum of one year. Subsequently, responsibility for the maintenance of safe production conditions should be transferred to a bangladeshan supervisory authority.

Commentary: Civil society is increasingly using strategic litigation to address corporate human rights abuses

26 Jun 2017 — "Transnational strategic litigation: an emerging part of civil society’s repertoire for corporate accountability", Jun 2017 …In response to transnational corporate involvement in human rights violations, civil society is increasingly exploring the tools offered by the law, and using strategic litigation to complement longstanding practices of campaigning, public protest, boycotts and negotiation… The language of the law and the format of legal proceedings can provide an impetus for the articulation of the demands of social movements towards corporations and offer an alternative vocabulary, rooted in discourse about rights… Legal interventions can draw attention to the ways in which companies disregard the human and environmental impacts of their products… Where voluntary commitments have failed, the necessary incentive to ensure that proper safety measures are put in place can be provided by making retailers recognise that they are liable for harms occurring in their supply chains… [W]hile civil lawsuits offer one way to demand corporate accountability, civil society can also use litigation to demand better state oversight… Litigation cannot be the only strategy for civil society’s engagement with the private sector, and there are clear limits to what court proceedings can achieve. But ideally, litigation can contribute to placing checks on…transnational companies in global supply chains, such as those of industrialised agriculture, manufacturing and the arms trade… [refers to Ali Enterprises, Bayer, Bayer Crop Science (part of Bayer), Heckler & Koch, Kik, Syngenta]