It has been over a month, the National Commission for Human Rights (NCHR) of Pakistan has been non-functional. On May 30 last year, the four-year tenure of the chairman and members of the NCHR expired.
The NCHR was set up through the Act XVI of 2012 in accordance with the Paris Principles.
The Paris Principles, adopted by the United Nations Human Rights Commission through a resolution in 1992 and later by the UN General Assembly through a resolution in 1993, relate to the status and functioning of national institutions for protection and promotion of human rights.
The National Commission for Human Rights Act, 2012, of the country stipulates a broad and overarching mandate for promotion, protection and fulfillment of human rights, as provided for in the country’s Constitution and international treaties.
As an independent organisation, the NCHR operates impartially and it is directly accountable to the parliament. It’s financial and performance reports are also directly submitted to the parliament for approval on an annual basis.
NCHR’s objectives are to conduct investigations into allegations of human rights abuse(s), either on petitions filed by individuals or institutions, or through suo motu action; review existing and proposed legislation in relation to human rights principles; carry out research and advise on policy matters pertaining to the situation of human rights in the country; contribute to national human rights awareness-raising and advocacy initiatives in the country; review and report on the government’s implementation and monitoring of the state of human rights; make technical recommendations and follow up on the implementation of treaty obligations and develop a national plan of action for the promotion, protection and fulfillment of human rights in the country.
Muhammad Arshad, Director General of the Ministry of Human Rights, said that there was no delay on his ministry’s part in the formation of the commission and appointment of its chairman and members.
“The former chairman of the NCHR has obtained a stay order from the Islamabad High Court and because of it the process has stopped. Once the stay is vacated we will start the process of appointment of members of the commission. During the last hearing of the case in the IHC we were hopeful that the stay would be vacated, but the lawyer of the former chairman did not appear in the court,” he said.