QUETTA: Civil society organisations have appreciated the policy guidelines on the protection of human rights defenders (HRD) presented by the National Commission for Human Rights (NCHR).
The policy envisions a country where everyone has the right to promote and to strive for the protection and realisation of human rights and fundamental freedoms at the national level.
The policy is based on Article-1 of the UN Declaration on Human Rights Defenders that says: “Everyone has the right, individually and in association with others, to promote and to strive for the protection and realization of human rights and fundamental freedoms at the national and international levels”.
Under the national policy guidelines, the NCHR pledges to assist where needed in any manner possible, all human rights defenders individually and in groups in carrying out their core functions.
The functions include dissemination on of information on human rights; investigating and documenting human rights violations; providing support to victims of human rights violations and taking appropriate legal actions against human rights perpetrators.
The NCHR Balochistan Chapter Coordinator Shamrose Satakzai said the NCHR is an apex human rights state body, obliged to protect human rights defenders in line with the motto –respect, protect and fulfill.”
“The NCHR is glad to share the content of policy guidelines for the protection of human rights defenders, which is formulated after the thorough consultation and inclusion of all stakeholders.
“The NCHR appreciates the hard work and support of Pakistan Human Rights Defenders Network (PHRDN) for facilitating the consultative process,” he added.
Fatima Khan, a human rights defender, said the government should grant political and legal recognition to the diverse and important work carried out by HRDs to protect the most vulnerable populations, to achieve more equal societies, and to strengthen democracy and the rule of law”.
“It is important to promote collaboration between government, CSO and other stakeholders to improve relations and enhance the pursuit and attainment of individual and collective national development goals,” he added.
Provincial assembly lawmaker Dinesh Kumar said these guidelines provide a tool to Pakistani HRDs, advocating stronger legal recognition and protection of their important work and to provide both government and defenders with a tool against which to measure and assess the coverage and effectiveness of existing laws and policies.
The HRCP Vice-Chairperson Habib Tahir said: “We anticipate that these guidelines will help in creating an enabling legal, institutional and democratic environment for civil society organisations to operate and contribute effectively to national development.”
Ministry of Human Rights (MoHR) Regional Director Abdul Sattar said the HRDs take a central place in the area of human rights. In Pakistan, violation of human rights are ubiquitous and rampant.
“The HRDs play a courageous role in promoting and protecting human rights at all risks. Therefore, the government needs to take concrete actions for the safety and wellbeing of these rights