NCHR forms provincial body over enforced disappearances


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

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

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

Such core committees of the human rights defenders on disappearances would be also 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 10th December, the International Human Rights Day being observed by the United Nations to commemorate the passage of UN Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) in 1948. This year, the UN is celebrating 70 years of the UDHR.

The United Nations passed the Declaration for Human Rights Defenders in 1998 and it is also observing its 20 years in all member countries.

Justice Chowhan said that the NCHR is seriously working on the issue of enforced disappearances. A booklet on this topic has already been published by the NCHR. He said the PM’s Public Complaint Cell has forwarded NCHR a lot of cases of enforced disappearances.

He said human rights is considered a western agenda and many Muslim countries try to avoid them.

He regretted that the Federal Ministry of Human Rights is not releasing funds for NCHR, which is creating many administrative problems. After the 18th amendment, there was no need of a separate ministry of NCHR, but current ministry is still there for Islamabad Capital Territory.

Earlier, Sindh Human Rights Defenders Network Coordinator Ali Palh said Human Rights Defenders’ security is different from human rights. He that the human rights defenders are facing threats in Pakistani society. Currently, those human rights defenders who work on the bonded labour and growers issues. Those who raise voice against human rights violations are facing false cases including charges under the terrorism act.

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

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

Senior Human Rights expert Iqbal Detho explained various features of human rights and explained the mechanism available under the NCHR Strategic Plan.

Other speakers raised their concerns regarding security of human rights. They underlined the need to provide legal support to the victims of enforced disappearance. A participant suggested to set up shelter homes for such victims.

The participants from different districts of Sindh attended the consultation.