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Two Important Human Rights Focused Provincial Legislations

Implementation of Two Important Human and Child Rights Focused Provincial Legislations is Required

by Amir Murtaza
May 6, 2013

Violations and abuse of the rights of ordinary people is a problem, which is more or less visible in every part of world. The intensity and nature of such violations may differ from one region to another; however, it is a fact that violation of human rights is an important issue in poor and developing countries.

According to available literature, “Human rights are commonly understood as inalienable fundamental rights to which a person is inherently entitled simply because she or he is a human being." It is further stated that, “Human rights are the basic rights and freedom to which all human beings are entitled. These rights include rights to freedom of expression and movement, equality before the law, the rights to live, right to education, religion, to own property, etc.”

Advocate Mian Naeem observed that, “Human Rights are applicable in every part of the world and are the same for all people of the world.” He added that, “Human rights violations occur when anyone, from state official to ordinary person, and in any capacity violate, abuse, ignore or deny the fundamental human rights.”

Like other poor and developing countries of the world, Pakistan is also struggling to counter the human rights violations in many parts of country. The country, in recent years, have taken measures and developed important legislation at federal and provincial level to protect the human rights of the citizens.

One of such legislation was the Sindh Protection of Human Rights Act 2011. The provincial level legislation came into being two years back. The law clearly stated that after the commencement of this Act, there shall be established a Commission to be known as the Sindh Human Rights Commission. However, after a span of two years no action has been taken to implement the Sindh Protection of Human Rights Act 2011.

It is really heartening to know that Sindh Provincial Minister for Human Rights and Women Development have taken notice of the inordinate delay in the enforcement of the Sindh Protection of Human Rights Act 2011. The Minister has ordered to establish Provincial Human Rights Commission as required by the law.

Establishment of Provincial Human Rights Commission is certainly an important step for the promotion and protection of human rights in Sindh province.

It is pertinent to mention that the Provincial Human Rights Commission has wide ranging power, including:
(i) inquire, suo moto or on a petition presented to it by a victim or any person on his behalf, into complaint of –
(a) violation of human rights or abetment thereof;
(b) negligence in the prevention of such violation, by a public servant;
(ii) recommend to Government the remedial measures including action to be taken against the persons involved in violation of human rights;
(iii) formulate, implement and regularly update policies with a view to protect human rights;
(iv) visit, under intimation to Government, any jail or institution under the control of Government where persons are kept or detained or admitted for purpose of treatment, reformation or protection to see the living conditions of the inmates and make recommendations thereon;
(v) review the safeguards provided by or under the Constitution or any law for the time being in force for protection of human rights and recommend measures for their effective implementation;
(vi) study treaties and other international instruments on human rights and make recommendations for their effective implementation;
(vii) undertake and promote research in the field of human rights;
(viii) spread human rights literacy among various sections of society;
(ix) promote awareness of the safeguards available for protection of human rights through print and electronic media, seminars and other available means;
(x) encourage the efforts of non-governmental organizations and institutions working in the field of human rights;
(xi) publish or cause to be published the various policies, details, data and information relevant to the affairs of the Commission on a regular basis and ensure reasonable access of the public to the same;
(xii) appoint such officers and staff as may be necessary for carrying out the purposes of this Act, subject to the approval of Government; and
(xiii) shall perform such other functions necessary for protection of human rights, as may be prescribed.

Advocate Ashraf Suleman observed that, “Legislation is the most important instrument of government in protecting their citizens.” He however, added that, “Implementation and enforcement of laws are extremely necessary otherwise the fine words lost their value.”

It is relevant to mention that the Sindh Child Protection Authority Bill, 2011 was passed by the Provincial Assembly of Sindh on 16th May, 2011 and assented to by the Honorable Governor of Sindh on 9th June, 2011. As per prescribed procedure, the Authority has to be established within Sixty (60) days; however, after a span of almost two years no action has so far been taken to establish the Sindh Child Protection Authority.

The proposed Authority shall have the following powers.
(a) to coordinate and monitor the child protection related issues at the provincial and district level;
(b) to ensure the rights of the children in need of special protection measures;
(c) to support and establish institutional mechanisms for the child protection issues;
(d) to make necessary efforts to enhance and strengthen the existing services of different children welfare institutions;
(e) to set minimum standards for social, rehabilitative, reintegrative and reformatory institution and services and ensure their implementation;
(f) to supervise in the light of minimum standards, the functions of all such institutions established by government or private sector for the special protection measures of the children;
(g) to set minimum standards for all other institutions relating to the children (like educational institutions, orphanages, shelter homes, remand homes, certified school, youthful offender work places, child parks and hospitals etc) and ensure their implementation;
(h) to review laws, propose amendments in the relevant law, wherever necessary, so as to bring those in conformity with the relevant international instruments ratified by Pakistan and to propose new laws;
(i) to recommend development of a Policy and Plan of Action for the children;
(j) to monitor and report on the violation of the national and provincial laws and international instruments and take suitable remedial measures for the protection of the child;
(k) to set up child protection management information system and prepare annual reports;
(l) to mobilize financial resources for programmes relating to special protection of children through provincial, national and international agencies;
(m)to promote and undertake systematic investigation and research on child protection issues;
(n) to initiate through relevant authorities, prosecution of the offenders when children are victim of the offence;
(o) to establish and manage the Fund;
(p) to do such acts as are ancillary and incidental to the above functions;
(q) to investigate or cause investigation, on its own or upon a complaint, into any matter having bearing on the interest of the children; and
(r) any other functions, which may be assigned to it by Government.

According to the Act, all the executive authorities shall also assist the Sindh Child Protection Authority in the performance of its functions.

Advocate Ashraf Suleman commented that, “Laws are meant to develop a peaceful society and strong implementation of laws assures safety and security in any country.” The senior Advocate opined that chaos was the order of the day in societies where criminals have no fear of punishment and they enjoy the benefit of the absence of proper law enforcement.

Non-implementation of laws and legislations leads to several problems in the society. Pakistan, at national and provincial level, have reasonably adequate set of laws; additionally, the previous government, at federal and provincial level, has also proposed and developed some comprehensive legislation such as the Sindh Protection of Human Rights Act 2011 and Sindh Child Protection Authority Act, 2011. Both legislations have great potential to promote and protect rights of vulnerable people, including women, children and marginalized groups. It is strongly suggested that next government should put sincere efforts and make sure strict implementation of all laws. Meantime, it is also recommended that present caretaker government in Sindh province should establish Sindh Child Protection Authority as required by the Sindh Child Protection Authority Act, 2011.

ENDS

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