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PESHAWAR: The representatives of various civil society organisations have demanded appointment of new chairman and members of National Commission for Human Rights (NCHR) without any further delay.

The demand was made at a joint press conference here on Thursday.

The representatives of the organisations said that National Commission for Human Rights Act, 2012 stipulated a broad and overarching mandate for promotion, protection and fulfillment of human rights.

NGOs show concern over lack of mechanism to check human rights issues

As an impartial state body, they said, NCHR worked independently and was directly accountable to the parliament.

Qamar Naseem, a right activist, expressed concerns over delay in the appointments and said because of completion of four-year term of the commission on May 30, there was no independent institutional mechanism to address the human rights issues in the country.

He alleged that the government failed to keep functional the legally mandated commission, which was reflecting non-seriousness of the government in its commitment to protect the human rights.

“Pakistan has long faced a crisis of impunity, with perpetrators of the gravest human rights violations, questionable political will, lack of legal aid and a judicial system fraught with delays are some reasons why victims have little chance of getting justice and therefore we must have an independent, active and functional national institution to look after the interests and fundamental rights of citizens guaranteed by the Constitution,” said Mr Naseem.

Pakhtunkhwa Civil Society Network coordinator Taimur Kamal said that till appointment of the new chairperson and members, the term of the existing members of the commission should be extended through a resolution or legislation.

Imran Takkar, a child rights activist, working with Group Develop Pakistan, said that NCHR’s mandate covered both the protection of human rights as well as their promotion.

“Without having its body in place and functional, it means there is no independent national mechanism in place which has the mandate to investigate and prevent human rights violations,” he said.

Fida Jan, co-chairperson of End Violence Against Women and Girls Alliance (EVAW/G) said that NCHR had quasi-judicial competence and ability to investigate allegations of human rights abuse and state negligence.

Farzana Jan, the president of TransAction Alliance, said that NCHR had always taken notice of violence against transgender community.

“The transgender community requests the federal government to make functional NCHR without any delay,” she added.

Published in Dawn, June 14th, 2019