KARACHI: The Sindh government will soon introduce a human rights (HR) policy, which would encompass the HR violations and resolution of the genuine cases being faced by people, including the forced conversions.

This was stated by special assistant to the chief minister on HR Surendar Valasai while speaking as chief guest at the Sindh Human Rights Commission’s Strategic Planning Workshop at a local hotel here on Saturday.

The two-day workshop was attended by human rights defenders, civil society activists, labour rights experts, concerned government departments, and women rights and transgender rights activists.

Mr Valasai said the Sindh government had credit to introduce legislation and institutions on human rights and minorities’ rights. The provincial government was working on addressing the needs and concerns of transgender individuals. Sindh was the first province which had reserved seats in the provincial local government councils, he added.

Sindh Human Rights Commission (SHRC) chairman Iqbal Detho pointed out that the Sindh Protection of Human Rights Act had been amended and now the themes of ‘business & human rights and alternate dispute resolution’ were added to the mandate of the commission, which was need of the hour.

According to him, the SHRC’s Strategic Plan (2022-2025) had identified numerous strategic pillars, objectives and actions covering the components of research, law review, institutional building and expansion, and financial autonomy.

He stated that the commission’s primary role was to promote the implementation of existing laws. The Sindh Child Marriage Restraint Act and Section 498 B of the Pakistan Penal Code (PPC) specifically addressed the prohibition of forced marriages and forced conversions.

In addition, Mr Detho mentioned that the Sindh Human Rights Commission (SHRC) will address issues of discrimination present in the syllabus.

A consultant and HR expert, Mr Qindeel Shujaat, led a detailed discussion to evaluate whether the proposed strategies in the SHRC plan addressed the pressing human rights issues in Sindh and promoted the commission’s mandate effectively.

Senior writer and HR activist Naseer Memon presented an overview of the human rights situation in Sindh, with a particular focus on areas affected by floods in 2022. According to him, the flood-hit areas are still suffering as water is standing in those areas.

Attaul Mustafa, Barrister Rida Tahir, Jamil Junejo, Nuzhat Shireen, Aslam Sheikh and Kulsoom Chandio also spoke.

Published in Dawn, May 29th, 2023

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