KARACHI – Speakers at a multi-stakeholders dialogue on Wednesday underlined the need for a coordination mechanism among all the Commissions established by both provincial and central governments to ensure provision of fundamental rights to all citizens. They were speaking at a Dialogue on Human Right, organised by Democracy Reporting International (DRI) at Sindh Assembly building and attended by the members of the provincial assembly and officials of human rights ministry and commissions. Justice (Retd) Majida Rizvi, Chairperson, Sindh Human Rights Commission was the chief guest. The multi-stakeholder dialogue towards improved human rights protection in Sindh was aimed to discuss the improved situation and the pro-human rights legislative framework. Pakistan is a party to key international human rights treaties and has ratified important international conventions and protocols on human rights. In compliance with domestic and international legislations, Pakistan has made considerable progress towards strengthening of democratic institutions and devolution of power. The 18th Constitutional Amendment paved the way for provincial autonomy and brought new opportunities and challenges for provinces as many important ministries departments were devolved to the provinces.
At the governmental level, the National Commission of Human Rights (NCHR) was established but after completion of its first tenure; it is facing challenges including financial and administrative.
While speaking on the occasion, Justice (Retd) Majida Rizvi said that the parliamentary committees have a broad human rights mandate, encompassing legislative and oversight functions. Also, they should have the powers to request information, question witnesses and carry out onsite missions.
It is also said that Pakistan’s architecture for human rights does not explicitly define provincial assemblies’ role in security of compliance with and implementation of international human rights obligations; however, after the 18th Amendment, many human rights subjects are now legislated upon by the provincial assemblies. Therefore, provincial assemblies’ role in compliance of international human rights obligations must be defined more clearly.
Lack of coordination among the commissions will inevitably undermine their credibility, creating confusion among those they are meant to protect, weakening the rule of law, and nurturing impunity.