FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
December 19, 2007
Oral intervention presented by Asian Legal Resource Centre at the Sixth Session of the Human Rights Council (Resumed), 13 December 2007
PAKISTAN: The ALRC expresses support for the mandate of the Special Rapporteur on housing rights during the HRC review
Review, rationalization and improvement of the mandate of the Special Rapporteur on Human Rights and Housing
Thank you Mr. President,
The Asian Legal Resource Centre (ALRC) wishes to take this opportunity to express its support for the extension of the mandate of the Special Rapporteur on Human Rights and Housing and its appreciation for the excellent work of the mandate holder, Mr. Miloon Kothari.
The work of the Special Rapporteur has significantly improved the understanding of the complex problems that are encountered when attempting to ensure the enjoyment of the right to adequate housing. This mandate has also enabled the protection of this right for a vast number of persons around the world.
My experience in working in favour of persons under threat of forced eviction in Pakistan is a clear example of the impact that the Special Rapporteur has had in the lives of hundreds of thousands of people there.
I had been working in order to oppose a mega-project being planned by the military government of Pakistan in Karachi, known as the Lyari Express Way, which was going to lead to the forced eviction without any concrete resettlement plan of some 300,000 persons. Success in this campaign would not have been possible without the assistance of the Special Rapporteur, who we approached in order to seek assistance.
The Special Rapporteur intervened by writing to the President of Pakistan in July 2002, mentioning a range of human rights that should be protected with regard to this project. This intervention provided great assistance to our movement in favour of those under threat and ultimately played a pivotal role in ensuring a landmark resettlement plan for the 25’400 households in question. Prior to this intervention the government was proceeding with impunity, however, following the Special Rapporteur’s letter, the government was compelled to enter into dialogue with the affected communities.
In addition, this intervention was also used by other communities around Pakistan facing forced eviction, who have achieved even better resettlement packages as a result. This concerned around 100’000 persons in the so-called Ring Road project in Lahore; around 35’000 persons in the Gwader Port project in Balochistan; a further estimated 100’000 persons in two other mega-projects in Karachi. In many such projects forced evictions have been halted and prevented in this way, and consultation processes have been created.
This is clear proof that this mandate makes a concrete difference in protecting human rights in a tangible way, and must therefore be extended and strengthened further in order to enable its positive effects to be enjoyed even more widely.
We also wish to thank Mr. Miloon Kothari personally for his exemplary role and work and urge the Human Rights Council to ensure that candidates of comparable credibility, character and expertise be selected for this and other mandates in the future.
Thank you Mr. Special Rapporteur. Thank you Mr. President.
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About ALRC: The Asian Legal Resource Centre is an independent regional non-governmental organisation holding general consultative status with the Economic and Social Council of the United Nations. It is the sister organisation of the Asian Human Rights Commission. The Hong Kong-based group seeks to strengthen and encourage positive action on legal and human rights issues at local and national levels throughout Asia.