Right to Life


The right to life, as articulated in the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (CCPR), is a foundational human right that underscores the sanctity of human life and places a significant obligation on states to protect and respect this inherent right for all individuals within their jurisdiction.

The CCPR, adopted by the United Nations General Assembly in 1966, affirms the inherent right to life in its Article 6. This article states that every human being has the inherent right to life and that this right should be protected by law. It further outlines that no one shall be arbitrarily deprived of their life.

The right to life encompasses several aspects:

Protection from unlawful deprivation

It prohibits governments from arbitrarily taking away someone’s life. Any action leading to the loss of life must conform to legal processes, including due process and the rule of law.

Positive obligations

States are not only obligated to refrain from taking life arbitrarily but also to take appropriate measures to safeguard and protect individuals’ lives. This includes ensuring access to adequate healthcare, clean water, food, and protection from violence or threats to life.

Abolition of the death penalty

Many interpretations of the right to life view it as incompatible with the use of the death penalty. While the ICCPR doesn’t explicitly abolish the death penalty, it restricts its use to the most serious crimes and advocates for its eventual abolition.

Protection of vulnerable groups

The right to life extends to all individuals, including marginalized and vulnerable groups such as minorities, refugees, prisoners, and unborn children.

The right to life, as outlined in the CCPR, is not absolute, and limitations can be placed on it in certain circumstances, such as in lawful acts of self-defense or in the context of armed conflict, where international humanitarian law may apply. 

Constitution of Pakistan

The right to life is enshrined under Article 4 and 9 of the Constitution of the Islamic Republic of Pakistan. According to article 9, “no person shall be deprived of life and liberty…..” This implies that nobody including the government, can try to end life. Furthermore, it also means that the government is required by its constitution to take adequate steps to safeguard life.

Sindh Legal Framework

The Government of Sindh enacted the torture and custodial death (Prevention and Punishment) Act-2022 on November 1, 2022 to prohibit torture or cruel human and degrading treatment, custodial death, punishable by the law. 

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