LAHORE: The Human Rights and Minority Affairs Department is creating a human rights wing to investigate and redress human rights violations across the province, and to enable the department to take up independent field work.
Currently, the department relies on media reports and the information provided by various non-government organisations (NGOs) to monitor the human rights situation. It doesn’t have any resources or field officers to conduct an inquiry, or to redress human rights violations. The department monitors media reports and passes instructions to the department or organization concerned on the basis of complaints it receives.
A senior official told The Express Tribune that two more new wings, namely an operational wing and a technical wing, would be formed shortly. He said that the paperwork for this had been completed and forwarded to the chief minister. Arshad bin Ahmad, the Human Rights and Minority Affairs Department secretary, said that the department was understaffed. “We can employ 140 officials. Currently we are working with just over 60 officials. The posts are now being filled,” he said, “There are some procedures and requirements to meet before the posts could be advertised.”
The secretary said that after the human rights wing was formed, the department would start undertaking field work. “Currently, we don’t have any resources for investigation. If we get an application against the police, we have to seek a report from the police department itself.
Published in The Express Tribune, August 6th, 2010.