Freedom of Expression, Attacks on Civil Society Groups

Dr. Tariq Mahmood

In 2020, the Pakistan government harassed and at times prosecuted human rights defenders, lawyers, and journalists for criticizing government officials and policies.

Authorities used draconian sedition and counterterrorism laws to stifle dissent, and strictly regulated civil society groups and organizations critical of government actions or policies.

Women, religious minorities, and transgender people continued to face violence, discrimination, and persecution, with authorities often failing to provide adequate protection or hold perpetrators to account. The government failed to hold law enforcement agencies accountable for serious abuses even as new allegations of torture and extrajudicial killings emerged. Attacks by Islamist militants targeting law enforcement officials and religious minorities killed dozens of people.

Pakistani authorities cracked down on members and supporters of opposition political parties. Several opposition leaders, including former heads of state and cabinet ministers, continued to face prosecution on politically motivated corruption charges.

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