CSOs’ Consultation demanded legislation to establish National Commission for Minorities Rights

NationalCSOs’ Consultation demanded legislation to establish National Commission for Minorities Rights

ISLAMABAD, Pakistan: While an inappropriate bill passed in haste by the National Assembly lapsed in the Senate in the last tenure, the participants of a consultative meeting bringing together representatives of the national human rights institutions, lawyers, and human rights experts, discussed concerns and expectations regarding the establishment of a statutory National Commission for Minorities Rights.

Prominent law and human rights experts including Peter Jacob, Farhatullah Babar (Former Senator PPP), Dr. Shoaib Suddle (Chairman One-man Commission), Zafarullah Khan, Shafique Chaudhary, Dr. A. H. Nayyar, Pirbhu Lal Satyani, Syed Raza Ali and Aftab Alam underscored that the institutional protection of minorities in Pakistan is imperative to address embedded inequality of rights on the basis of religion as well as to strengthen the rule of law and good governance.

   

The participants voiced serious concerns regarding the manner minority rights commissions had been established by successive governments in the past, citing gaps such as; lack of sound legal basis, limited mandate, incompetence, lack of autonomy, and insufficient resources, thus failing to make any progress toward policy reforms and redressing complaints related to minorities’ rights.

They emphasized that the delay in legislation for constituting minority rights commissions will prolong the remedy of longstanding human rights issues faced by minorities.

It was noted that the coalition partners of the federal government, including PML-N, PPP, and MQM have pledged in their manifestos for elections 2024, to establish a statutory national commission for minorities’ rights. The federal government is urged to consult human rights experts on a bill, and pass a law to establish this body, with the mandate to make policy recommendations, investigate complaints, and propose remedies against human rights violations.

The participants recommended that the prospective commission as an independent minority rights institution, besides reflecting religious diversity should be a human rights institution rather than a religious body.

Moreover, there is no need for a representation of the Council of Islamic Ideology or Evacuee Trust Property Board as is the precedent set by other NHRIs on human rights, child rights, and women’s rights.

The meeting organized by the Centre for Social Justice (CSJ) agreed to form a working group tasked to draft a comprehensive bill in conforming with UN Paris Principles and the directives of the Supreme Court of Pakistan issued on 19 June 2014 (SMC No. 1 of 2014), and agreed to work with federal ministries, legislators, and political parties for the introduction of the Bill in the parliament.

Mati
Mati
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