Complying with its international obligations, Pakistan established a National Commission for Human Rights (NCHR) through the Act XVI of 2012 in accordance with the Paris Principles. In its preamble, the Act provides its raison d’être as follows;
“WHEREAS it is expedient to provide for the creation of National Commission for Human Rights, for the purpose of promotion and protection of Human Rights as provided in the Constitution of Islamic Republic of Pakistan and various international instruments to which Pakistan is state party or shall become a state party.”
The National Commission for Human Rights Act, 2012 stipulates a broad and overarching mandate for the promotion, protection and fulfillment of human rights, as provided for in Pakistan’s Constitution and international treaties. As an impartial state body, the NCHR works independently of the Government and is directly accountable to the Parliament of Pakistan. The NCHR’s financial and performance reports are also directly presented to the Parliament for approval on an annual basis.
The primary functions and powers of the NCHR include, among others, to conduct investigations into allegations of human rights abuse(s), either on petitions filed by individuals or institutions, or through suo-moto 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 Pakistan; 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 Pakistan.