KARACHI: On the eve of the 75th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) by the United Nations General Assembly in 1948, the Sindh Human Rights Commission (SHRC) and the Human Rights Department of the Government of Sindh jointly organised a programme at Boy Scouts Association headquarters, on Saturday.

The event also included launch of the SHRC online portal and two publications.

In his introductory remarks on the occasion, Justice (retd) Arslan Sheikh said that the 30 articles in the Declaration of Human Rights were important for each country of the world because they were for humanity. “But that said, we must also think about what we have done or what we are doing for human rights,” he said.

SHRC Chairperson Iqbal Detho said that despite the UDHR, crimes against humanity and against peace had not stopped.

SHRC launches online portal

Tracing the journey of the document from its inception in 1946 to its completion in 1948, he remembered the respected ladies who shaped the 30 articles of the Declaration, especially the then US First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt, for her leading role in drafting it, and Pakistan’s Begum Shaista Ikramullah for championing Article 16 on equal rights in marriage to combat child and forced marriages.

He termed the UDHR as the cornerstone of human rights. He mentioned SHRC’s objectives, addressing human rights violations and abuses, and the accessibility of SHRC’s complaint form. He also stressed SHRC’s advocacy for remand homes and women and children desks at police stations across districts.

Additionally, he highlighted SHRC’s training programmes for judicial members and police on various laws, their work concerning minorities, inspections of government facilities including jails and hospitals, and interventions for the transgender community.

The launch of the study, Mapping of Legal Aid Mechanisms in Sindh Province, had SHRC’s legal consultant Barrister Rida Tahir inform in detail about its aims. The study offers a panoramic view of legal aid services within provincial, national, and international legal frameworks.

The launch of the Human Rights Information Online Portal in Sindh (SOHRIS) had Qandeel Shujaat, the expert on portals and websites, explaining the difference between a portal and a website. Portals are for exchange of information,” he pointed out, adding that SOHRIS mainly served as a comprehensive resource hub, providing information on human rights, legal safeguards and avenues for seeking remedy while enhancing knowledge, awareness and understanding of human rights across diverse sections of society.

Jameel Junejo, executive director of the Treaty Implementation Cell of the Human Rights Department of the Government of Sindh, presented the updated Human Rights Policy. The refreshed policy adapts to evolving standards and practices while addressing contemporary human rights challenges.

Sindh’s Secretary Education Shireen Narejo discussed the uniformity of the curriculum across Pakistan. She stressed the importance of acknowledging children’s rights which their elders must safeguard.

Secretary of the Human Rights Department, Government of Sindh, Tahseen Fatima, delivered closing remarks.

The programme also included a tableau performance by school children about the right to speak.

Published in Dawn, December 10th, 2023

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