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December 6, 2018

NCHR forms committee to take up enforced disappearance cases


December 6, 2018

Justice (retd) Ali Nawaz Chowhan, chairman of the National Commission for Human Rights (NCHR), on Wednesday announced the formation of a Sindh-level core advisory committee comprising representatives from the civil society, media and lawyers organisations to monitor and take quick actions in cases of enforced disappearances.

He made the announcement as he spoke at a Sindh provincial consultative meeting of civil society and human rights defenders in connection with the formulation of an “NCHR’s Protection Policy for Human Rights Defenders” jointly organised by the NCHR and the Pakistan Human Rights Defenders Network at a local hotel.

Justice Chowhan said many complaints of enforced disappearances were reported in Sindh and there was a need to take up the issue. The Sindh core advisory committee of the NCHR on enforced disappearances will be headed by NCHR Sindh member Anis Haroon.

Such core committees of the human rights defenders on disappearances would be set up in all provinces and regions, he added.

The consultation was held to collect recommendations on the Policy for Human Rights Defenders. The NCHR will announce the policy for Human Rights Defenders on December 10, which is International Human Rights Day, observed by the United Nations to commemorate the passage of the UN Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) in 1948. This year, the UN is celebrating 70 years of the UDHR.

The United Nation passed the Declaration for Human Rights Defenders in 1998 and it is also observing 20 years of the Declaration on Human Rights Defenders in all member countries. Justice Chowhan said that the NCHR was seriously working on the issue of enforced disappearances, and a booklet on this topic had already been published by the NCHR. He said the PM’s Public Complaint Cell had forwarded the NCHR a lot of cases of enforced disappearances.

He said human rights were considered a western agenda and many Muslim countries avoid talking about them because there had been dictatorships in most of Muslim countries.

He regretted that the federal ministry for human rights was not releasing funds for the NCHR, and that was creating many administrative problems. After the passage of the 18th amendment there was no need of a separate ministry, but the current ministry was still there for Islamabad Capital Territory.

Earlier, Ali Palh, coordinator of the Sindh Human Rights Defenders Network, said human rights defenders’ security was different from the human rights. He the human rights defenders were facing threats in Pakistani society, and currently those human rights defenders who worked on bonded labour and growers’ issues and those who raised voice against human rights violations were facing false cases including charges under the terrorism act.

Anis Haroon said that besides enforced disappearances, extrajudicial killings were a major violation of human rights in Sindh. She said there was no support mechanism for the victims and their families.

Zulfiqar Shah from PILER said that such consultations had been held in all the provinces and Wednesday’s was the last of the series. The civil society’s recommendations would be finalised and submitted to the NCHR for inclusion in the policy.

Senior human rights expert Iqbal Detho explained the mechanism available under the NCHR Strategic Plan. Other speakers raised their concerns regarding security of the human rights. They underlined the need to provide legal support to the victims of enforced disappearances. A participant suggested setting up shelter homes of such victims. The participants from different districts of Sindh attended the consultation.

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