From Yoshita Singh
United Nations, Jan 12 (PTI) A United Nations human
rights expert has called on the Pakistani authorities to make
it a top priority to locate and protect four disappeared human
rights and social media campaigners, saying no government
should tolerate attacks on its citizens."I strongly urge the Government of Pakistan to take every
step possible to locate the four missing activists, a first
step toward reemphasising its commitment to freedom of
expression at the beginning of the year," said David Kaye, the
UN Special Rapporteur on the right to freedom of expression,
in a news release from the Office of the UN High Commissioner
for Human Rights.The four activists Waqas Goraya, Asim Saeed, Salman
Haider and Ahmed Raza Naseer went missing this month. They
had been accused of promoting blasphemy, a criminal offense in
Pakistan."No government should tolerate attacks on its citizens,"
the human rights expert said."By making the investigation of these disappearances an
urgent priority, the Pakistani authorities can send a strong
signal that they take seriously the responsibility for the
life and security of all of its citizens, particularly in
cases involving freedom of expression."
"Free expression campaigners and experts have long called
for the abolition of criminal blasphemy provisions in
Pakistan, which may carry the death penalty," Kaye said."Not only are such laws incompatible with international
human rights law, but they also facilitate threats by state
and non-state actors seeking to target expression."
The Special Rapporteur stressed that "all States have an
obligation to promote a diverse space and culture for
expression, but such culture does not create itself.