Fundamental rights: Commissions on minority rights demanded

Pakistan on 11 February 2014
Location : Lahore | Source : Express Tribune. Image Source: Express Tribune

“The government should set up a commission on minority rights to monitor the human rights situation of the religious minorities,” South Asia Partnership-Pakistan (SAP-PK) Coordinator for Human Rights Fund-III (HRF-III) Hameed Gondal said on Monday.

He was addressing a press conference.

He commissions on minority rights should be established at national and provincial levels. They said the commissions should be autonomous bodies with financial and administrative powers.

He said the commission should also analyse the discriminatory laws and policies.

SAP-PK also asked the government to ensure religious freedom of minorities as promised under national and international commitments.
Gondal said the HRF-III programme aimed to increase protection and promotion of freedom of expression, assembly, association and thought.

He said persecution of minorities in Pakistan was a grave issue being ignored by the government.

He said, “The Constitution of Pakistan in its introductory chapter clearly says that no person shall be prevented from or be hindered from doing that which is not prohibited by law; and no person shall be compelled to do that which the law does not require him to do.”

Citing some examples of fundamental rights as guaranteed in the Constitution of Pakistan, he said the first chapter stated that laws inconsistent with or in derogation of fundamental rights were void.

He said Articles 16, 17, 18 and 19 granted freedom of assembly, freedom of association and freedom of speech to every citizen in Pakistan regardless of any distinction. He said Article 20 allowed professing religion and managing religious institutions.

Gondal said Pakistan had ratified the International Convention on Civil and Political Rights. He said the state was obliged to ensure the protection of religious freedom.

He said the government was supposed to share its initial report with UN committee by September 2011 on the state of civil and political rights guaranteed by . He said the reported had still not been submitted.

Referring to the Universal Periodic Review of Pakistan conducted in October 2012, he said out of 164 recommendations made by international community, more than 30 were concerned with the situation of religious minorities.

He said Pakistan had ratified several declarations and international conventions.

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