ISLAMABAD: The challenges faced by the four-month-old National Commission for Human Rights (NCHR) from beginning to discharge its constitutional duties will be discussed in the next session of the Senate, a source from the NCHR has told The Express Tribune.
Some members of the commission have already approached several members of the Upper House to ensure that their concerns receive attention.
These senators, including the Pakistan Peoples Party’s Farhatullah Babar, had already raised the issue during the last session of the House through a calling attention notice. The senators are expected to take the matter up with the federal law minister, who they allege has failed to fulfill the promises he had made in response to their earlier protests in the Senate.
In their motion, they had asked the government to fulfill its constitutional and international commitments had urged the law ministry to extend all required facilities to the commission. Senator Agha Shahbaz Durrani, from Balochistan, accused that the government of failing to provide funds and other essential facilities such as an office, staff, and transportation etc. to the NCHR.
In his response, the law minister had assured the senators that the government would meet all its financial and other obligations to the commission.
The NCHR came into being about 4 months ago after years of lobbying by civil society groups and international pressure. However, since its formation, it has not been able to discharge its constitutional duties due to several challenges largely created by obstructionism from bureaucrats in the law ministry.
“It is a matter of embarrassment and humiliation that similar human rights watchdog, the Afghan Independent Human Rights Commission (AIHRC), is functioning in that war-torn country for the last 13 years but ours has yet to get off the ground,” said one source in the NCHR.
The AIHRC was established in 2002, soon after the US invasion of Afghanistan. Sima Samar, a world-renowned human rights activist, is serving as the chairperson of the Afghan Commission.
Both the AIHRC and Pakistan’s NCHR came into being in accordance with international laws such as the Paris Principles of National Human Rights Institutions (NHRIs).
“One of them is fully functioning even in the most difficult circumstances constantly emanating from prolonged civil war and foreign invasion, while the other is not being allowed to become fully functional by the government,” said the source.
Published in The Express Tribune, October 24th, 2015.