The Sindh Human Rights Department has sought Rs137 million for development projects in its budget proposal for the upcoming fiscal year, despite not spending a single paisa from the funds allocated in the current fiscal year.
The department had proposed only three projects in the current financial year, and judging by the department’s failure to initiate work on any of them, the state of human rights in the province is not expected to get better anytime soon.
According to a Sindh government official, the department did not spend any amount of the Rs100 million allocated under the Annual Development Programme (ADP) 2011-12.
Last year, the human rights department had proposed to set up a Human Rights Complaints Cell at a cost of Rs33 million. While Sindh Human Rights Minister Nadia Gabol claims that the centre is functioning and has received around 14,000 complaints, according to the Sindh government, the funds for the project were never utilised. A human rights official, requesting anonymity, was of the view that the department has just started functioning and “will take some time to settle”. In the outgoing fiscal year, another Rs33 million was set aside for free legal aid – a Sindh-based programme to assist victims of human rights violations by granting them free legal services, which too failed to take off. For organising campaigns to educate the people of their constitutional rights, the department was allocated Rs34 million. While the Sindh government officials said that no money from the ADP was spent on this project also, the department official claimed that work has started on the scheme and clerics are being asked to impart sermons on human rights after Friday prayers. Among the department’s future projects, a database comprising information on human rights violations in the province is in the pipeline. The human rights ministry was set up as a separate entity in 2008, but has failed to come up with any major development projects or assistance programmes. At one of the rare events organised by the department on the Human Rights Day last December, Nadia Gabol had pledged to set up a committee for human rights. The promise, however, remains unfulfilled.
Published in The Express Tribune, June 9th, 2012.