After a much-hailed Right to Information law, the provincial government aims to establish a human rights directorate, the first of its kind in the country, to help address citizens’ complaints.
Talking to The Express Tribune, a high-ranking government official said the premise behind setting up the Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa (K-P) Human Rights Directorate is to help people get their complaints redressed in time. He added that the directorate will be set up through a governor’s ordinance called the K-P Human Rights Directorate Act and that it was a unique step which has not been taken by any other province yet. “Anyone’s complaint against any individual, institution or official will be addressed through the directorate,” he said.
“When a citizen lodges a complaint regarding any issue they confront, the head of the directorate would act as a complainant and process the case accordingly,” he said, adding that the law will only cover K-P.
An official familiar with the matter said the K-P Human Rights Directorate will function as part of the provincial law department. Explaining the broad contours of the law, he said “The director will look into the nature of the complaint and decide as to which competent court or legal forum would hear the case,” he said.
“The law, besides envisaging the protection of rights of citizens, will help towards tightening the noose around government officials to be mindful of citizens’ rights to immediate redressing of their problems.”
Furthermore, an official at the Governor’s House confirmed that the ordinance had been signed by the K-P governor and would be presented for approval in the provincial assembly during its next session.
By law, the ordinance should be approved by the house within 90 days or it will expire, he added.
Chief minister’s spokesperson Shiraz Paracha said the setting up of the human rights directorate should be viewed as part of a series of laws passed by the K-P government to establish a checks and balances system. He added that similar steps taken by the government include the Right to Information law, Ehtisab (accountability) Commission and the formulation of conflict of interest laws in the province.
“All these laws and the human rights directorate are part of a larger scheme with the sole aim of empowering citizens,” claimed Paracha.
The spokesperson further said the idea of developing a law which would set up a human rights directorate in K-P was initially conceived by late law minister Israrullah Gandapur who was killed in a suicide attack in October this year.
“It was later formulated by the provincial law secretary through the directives of the chief minister,” he shared.
Published in The Express Tribune, December 14th, 2013.