Parliamentarians urged to play role in protecting human rights

Islamabad: Around 60 to 70 per cent of the recommendations made in Pakistan’s last Universal Periodic Review (UPR) require action from the Parliament.

The information was shared at a briefing on international human rights system organised for the Parliamentarians by National Commission for Human Rights (NCHR) in collaboration with the United Nations Development Program (UNDP). The briefing was delivered by Christine Chung, a special representative from the Office of the High commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR).

The briefing was attended by National Assembly’s Standing Committee on Human Rights and Senate’s Functional Committee on Human Rights. NCHR Chairman Justice (r) Ali Nawaz Chowhan welcomed the guests and highlighted the purpose of the briefing and its effective role in implementation of the recommendations of the treaty committees.

Christine Chung briefed the participants on the international human rights frameworks and mechanisms and the obligations of the state parties. She further emphasized the role of parliamentarians for the effective implementation of recommendations to protect human rights.

She said that about 60- 70 per cent of the recommendations made in Pakistan’s last Universal Periodic Review (UPR) require action from the parliament which makes it important that parliamentarians of the country are equipped with the knowledge and necessary tools to exercise their role in an effective manner.

She further added that Pakistan’s reports on many of the treaties to which Pakistan is a state party are pending which does not reflect positively on the government of Pakistan regarding fulfilling its international human rights commitments. She said that ICCPR and ICESCR are two main international instruments and Pakistan’s reports on both these conventions are pending. “In this regard, parliamentarians can put pressure on the government regarding the delay,” she added.

Talking about Committee on ICESCR, she said the issues related to protection of child and registration of child birth and education were the key observations of the treaty body in the context of child rights and parliamentarian can take steps and join government to address the recommendation to protect the rights of child.

Regarding the concerns of the Committee on the Rights of Child (CRC), she informed the participants that the committee has raised concerns that the minimum age for marriage is set different for girls (16 years) and boys (18 years) in some provincial laws. She also mentioned that the victims of such practices have attempted or committed suicide which is very alarming. She said that Parliamentarians must play their role to legislative on the subject and fix the child age in line with the CRC.

She also mentioned that Pakistan ratified the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities in 2011 but has not submitted a single report till now. “Pakistan is a member of the Human Rights Council which is why Pakistan ought to take extensive measures for the protection and promotion of human rights. Pakistan must allow country visits by the council to evaluate the human rights situation. Since 2012, Pakistan has not invited the visits of special rapporteurs which does not sit very well with the image of a human rights friendly nation that the country wants to portray.”