KARACHI: Sindh Assembly’s standing committee on minority affairs decided on Wednesday to establish the ‘Sindh Minority Rights Commission’ to negate the propaganda of human rights violation of minorities in the province and take suo motu actions on their issues.
The meeting was convened in the committee room of the Sindh Assembly on Wednesday to discuss a private bill moved in the provincial assembly by Pakistan Muslim League-Functional (PML-F) parliamentary leader Nand Kumar Goklani.
Lawmakers of the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP), Muttahida Qaumi Movement, Pakistan Muslim League – Nawaz and the PML-F insisted that minorities need a platform where their grievances can be addressed.
“We discussed and evolved a consensus on 11 points of the Sindh Minority Rights Commission Bill,” said committee chairperson Poonjo Bheel. The 11-member commission will be headed by a chairperson, who will have experience in minorities’ rights issues in particular, and human rights in general.
“The chairperson should be from a minority community with at least 15 years of experience,” said Bheel. “The government will appoint the chairperson and commission members through a public notice and there will be 33% representation of women,” he said, adding that one youth, one lawyer, and two civil society activists will be among other members. “The commission will comprise all ethnic and religious groups from the minority communities.”
The bill allows this commission to conduct investigations on complaints, summon any official, request public records and give recommendations to the provincial government.
Goklani, who moved the bill, said that they have proposed the commission also review all laws, rules and regulation affecting the status and rights of minorities and suggest repeal, amendment ore new legislation essential to eliminate discrimination, safeguard and promote the interest of minorities, he explained.
“When this bill was introduced in the assembly on December 22, the speaker formed a 14-member committee to deliberate on this issue but, unfortunately, hardly six members turned up today,” he pointed out.
“The formation of a commission is not an issue but how government empowers it, that’s the big question,” said Iqbal Detho, a civil society activist. Meanwhile, PPP MPA Shamim Mumtaz said they will agree on clauses that do not conflict with the Constitution. “This law is needed.”
Published in The Express Tribune, February 18th, 2016.