ISLAMABAD-Human Rights Commission of Pakistan on Wednesday expressed concerns on rising incidents of forced conversion and child abuse, urging the state to prevent such human rights violations in the country.

The HRCP held National Conference on Human Rights and Democratic Participation to discuss the challenges.

A statement issued by the HRCP said that it noted with concern the state’s amendment of the requisites of participatory democracy and reversal to the concept of a majoritarian state.

The HRCP is alarmed at the rapidly closing space for civil society organisations in Pakistan.

Given that they have played a key role in delivering services where and when the state could not it is a matter of great concern that they should now be pushed out of operation through registration refusals and undue restrictions.

The statement also said media has come under intense pressure in the form of job terminations and an escalation in the harassment of journalists. Increasingly PEMRA has placed undue restrictions on the media which don’t appear to serve any concrete purpose.

“HRCP is greatly concerned at the rise in the number of forced conversion being reported, especially in Sindh.

This appears to be a systematic, organized trend and needs to be seen in the broader context of the coercion of vulnerable girls and young women from communities that are already marginalised by their faith, class and socioeconomic status.

It also said that the scale of child abuse across Pakistan cannot be allowed to become the norm. HRCP is especially concerned at reports that children are subject to abuse in Baluchistan mining sector, which is still characterized by hazardous working conditions and little regard for occupational health and safety among mine owners.

The lack of documentation of workers in this sector remains a critical issue, without which their working conditions will not improve.

“While HRCP welcomed the passage of the Transgender persons ( Protection of Rights) Act 2018, it urges the state to take steps to ensure that the law is implemented. The rights and identity of the Transgender persons community must be protected if this vulnerable group is to play it’s due role in civic society.

HRCP noted with great concern the rise in extremism. The recent case in which a university professor in Bahawalpur was murdered by a student simply for planning a mixed gender gathering for his students is a dangerous sign. That the student was alleged to have links to the far right Tehreek e Labbaik Pakistan shows how deeply entrenched extremism remains on campuses.

Similarly, the vitriol that followed this year’s successful Aurat March indicates just how hard women must fight to claim their right to freedom of assembly and to public spaces. Rape threats and threats to women’s lives because they dared march in public are inexcusable.

It said that the steps taken by the state to deliver on its commitments to curb terror financing and money laundering risks to the global financial system remain, so far unsatisfactory.