ISLAMABAD: President Asif Ali Zardari signed the National Commission for Human Rights Bill 2012 on Wednesday.
The National Human Rights Commission Act was endorsed by the Senate on March 9 and passed by the National Assembly on May 4 this year.
A few months after the bill was signed by the Senate, the Human Rights Watch (HRW) had urged the president to not sign the bill until it was revised to authorise investigations of the military and the intelligence agencies for rights abuses.
The HRW had said that the current bill would “prevent the commission from addressing or investigating human rights violations by members of the armed forces and intelligence agencies.”
The commission includes the chairperson of the National Commission on Status of Women, as well as a member from minorities.
The panel, either on its own or after receiving a petition concerning violation of human rights, will be eligible to seek a report from the federal government.
Also, panel members or any other individual authorised by the body, will be entitled to visit the country’s jails as well as any other detainment centre falling under the authority of the government or the intelligence agencies.
The commission would have the legal authority to summon witnesses and obtain documents, including government documents. However, according to the bill passed, the panel cannot inquire directly into the acts of intelligence outfits.
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