FN urges reactivation of human rights commission to defend journalists


By Ashrafuddin Pirzada

ISLAMABAD: Pakistani media watchdog Freedom Network has urged the Federal Minister for Human Rights Shireen Mazari to urgently start the process of selection of a new chairman and seven members of the National Commission of Human Rights–a statuary body with the mandate of enforcing fundamental human rights and compliance of state organs and institutions to respect these rights.

The NCHR has been inactive since its incumbent chairman and members completed their four-year term on May 30, 2019.

“The NCHR’s inability to enforce its mandate and procedurally enforced inactiveness for over a year is extremely worrying as it is tantamount to injustice to the citizens of Pakistan who see the commission as remedy to seek support against violations of their fundamental human rights,”said executice director freedom network Iqbal Khattak in a press statement issued here 08 June 2020.

Freedom Network, the press statement, said engaged with the NCHR platform to seek investigations into attacks on journalists and media houses and these official findings helped journalists track perpetrators of crimes they faced.

“An active NCHR is fulfilment of the Parliament’s wishes and to the benefit of the citizens. We, therefore, urge the minister in charge of human rights to make the Commission’s urgent activation a top priority beginning with getting the process going to get new members selected through Parliament’s involvement,” Iqbal Khattak said.

A former member of the commission has said that NCHR was “inactive the day its chairman and members completed the four-year term” on May 30 last year. “In absence of such a platform the government’s resolve to protect and enforce citizens’ human rights will get weaker,” he said.

The press statement hoped the federal human rights ministry would take Freedom Network’s plea and the desire of the entire human rights community seriously and bring in a new chairman and members of the Commission as soon as possible.