In order to meet international obligations, the Ministry of Human Rights is to appoint ‘human rights defenders’ at the union council level (the smallest administrative unit) across the country.
Adviser to the Prime Minister on Human Rights Mustafa Nawaz Khokhar confirmed the move and told The Express Tribune that in addition, the government plans to introduce human rights as a subject in school curricula.
He added, however, that since education is a provincial subject, he was not clear as to what grade in school would be agreed upon by the provinces to teach Human Rights to. Khokhar said that at the federal level at least, the subject will be taught at training institutes for civil services, police academies and other institutes. The adviser explained that he has already been given a go-ahead to make a draft law in this regard.
Khokar, who is also hopeful of a PPP ticket for the next general elections, said that the proposed ‘human rights defenders’ will either be lawyers or people who have “knowledge of the subject”, and they will be tasked to keep an eye on human rights violations, especially concerning vulnerable groups like children, women and minorities. Similarly, these ‘vigilantes’ will be empowered to take action against the police for any human rights violations and send such cases to the ministry.
The adviser added that the proposed legislation is in accordance with an international treaty ratified by Pakistan, including the Committee Against Torture and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR).
He said the government has ratified seven international treaties on human rights and the ministry is actively working on necessary legislative and administrative measures to implement the obligations that arise from the ratification of these treaties.
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