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Activists demand appointments of NHRC chairperson, members without delay

By Our Correspondent
August 02, 2019

After the completion of the previous body’s tenure of the National Commission for Human Rights (NCHR), the prominent labour leaders and civil society activists on Thursday demanded of the parliamentary committee on human rights’ and the federal government to appoint new chairperson and members of the state-backed NCHR without delay.

Tenure of NHRC Chairperson Justice (retd) Ali Nawaz Chowhan and the other members of the commission had ended recently. In a joint statement, the activists pointed out that a national watchdog of human rights like the NCHR was essential for a democratic country and to ensure compliance with international commitments. Pakistan was enjoying the Generalised System of Preference (GSP) and the facility for duty-free exports to the European markets under which Pakistan had to ratify and implement the Seven Core Human Rights Covenants/Conventions, besides total 27 international commitments.

Under the National Commission for Human Rights Act, 2012, the NCHR was created a board for promotion, protection and fulfillment of human rights as provided in the Constitution of Pakistan and the international treaties.

During their four-year tenure, Chowhan and other NCHR members played an active role in the protection of human rights of the citizens of Pakistan, the activists said.

They said that the last body of the NCHR had prepared and published various reports about the violation of human rights in Pakistan, which were well-received by the international human rights bodies and institutions.

It is pertinent to note here that the NCHR has quasi-judicial competence and the ability to investigate allegations of human rights abuses, including the power to summon and examine witnesses, visit jails, detention centres or other holdings cells; procure public records, court proceedings and other documents; forward cases to a prosecutor or magistrate.

“The delay in appointing the NCHR chairman and members has created a vacuum and this delay seems to be deliberate, which is not acceptable,” the activists said.

According to the Paris Principles, members of the National Human Rights Institutions (NHRIs) should be able to fulfil their responsibilities without any fear or interference from the other state bodies and stakeholders. The struggle for protection and promotion of human rights were long and arduous and we could not afford any gap in the smooth functioning of the NCHR.

Those who endorsed the statements included Karamat Ali of the Pakistan Institute of Labour Education and Research, Mahnaz Rahman of the Aurat Foundation, Mir Zulfiqar Ali of the Workers Education and Research Organisation, Zehra Khan of the Home Based Women Workers Federation, Farhat Parveen of the NOW Communities, Liaquat Ali Sahi of the Democratic Workers Federation of State Bank of Pakistan, Habibuddin Junaidi of the Peoples Labour Bureau and Asad Iqbal Butt of the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan.