Helpline 1099

Over the last two years, the human rights ministry has filed 70,000 complaints on its 1099 helpline

Editorial February 08, 2018

Human rights violations occur too frequently in this country. Whether it is forced conversions, marriages against the will of daughters and sons, or chauvinist attitudes towards women in the home, groups thrive on constant perceived power over other groups. Over the last two years, the human rights ministry has filed 70,000 complaints on its 1099 helpline over rights violations. Thus far, however, only about 13 per cent of those complaints have been responded to. While we wonder about the quality of effort applied to the addressed complaints, the greater concern is the ministry’s capability to handle on average, 95 calls a day — based on the figure of 70,000 complaints over two years provided in the ministry’s report to the National Assembly’s Standing Committee on Human Rights. Both the committee and the ministry are implored to prioritise management of rights cases, which is crucial to the moral progress of the country simultaneously for the security of all people and groups.

The need to tactfully handle rights violations is underscored by cases of murder arising from personal animosities and racial and ethnic prejudices. Recent examples of murder and domestic terrorism from Karachi and Quetta can vouch that there is a lack of acceptance for the ‘other’. An immediate course of action should be to employ full-time staff lawyers to fight for the cause of justice, reasonably proportionate to the number of complaints received. We cringe at the thought of there being thousands more cases that have gone unreported due to a lack of awareness in the general public or fear of backlash. There is also low confidence in the ability of authorities to effectively deal with certain issues. Although it is encouraged that more citizens speak out against rights violations of all types as awareness increases, the ministry needs to equip itself with appropriate means to deal with the sheer volumes that can be expected. 

Published in The Express Tribune, February 8th, 2018.

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