– Photo by Reuters/File

KARACHI: President Asif Ali Zardari on Wednesday signed the National Commission for Human Rights Bill authorising the setting up of an independent and powerful human rights commission, DawnNews reported.

According to the bill, the commission would comprise of 10 members headed either by a retired judge of the Supreme Court or by a human rights expert.

There will be reserved seats — one for a woman and another for a person belonging to a religious minority.

The commission would have the authority to hold accountable any institution for its human rights violations.

It would also reserve the power to take suo motu action against rights breaches in the country.

The bill was passed by the National Assembly of Pakistan in December 2011 while it was unanimously approved in the upper house on March 9, 2012. It required the president’s approval before it could become a law.

Two weeks earlier, the Human Rights Watch (HRW) had urged President Zardari not to sign the bill to authorise the formation of the commission until it was revised to “authorise investigations of the military and the intelligence agencies for human rights violations.”

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