The creation of the “Punjab Human Rights Commission” is recommended.

The violations of human rights need to be addressed through an institutionalized framework of the Punjab Human Rights Commission.

Syed Kausar Abbas, executive director of Sustainable Social Development Organization (SSDO) said that the establishment of the human rights commission in every province is important to protect the fundamental rights of the citizens including religious freedom, access to justice, protection of minority rights, and establish gender equality.

The provincial government must initiate the process of establishing the provincial commission on the human rights and give suo-moto powers to take notices on the violation of any human rights in the province.

Abbas said the Sindh Human Rights Commission is functional and actively working to protect the rights of the vulnerable communities of the Sindh province.

The Punjab province also needed to follow a similar model, he added.

He further said that SSDO was launching a campaign in the province of Punjab to strengthen the institutional advocacy to establish the human rights commission and to provide assistance to the government.

He urged the Punjab government to set up the Punjab Human Rights Commission following the successful model of the Sindh Human Rights Commission.

This step will prove to be very important for the promotion and protection of human rights in Punjab, ensuring accountability and promoting a culture of respect and dignity for all citizens. Kausar Abbas said that the Sindh Human Rights Commission was also a successful model for the rest of the provinces.

He also, stated that the “Sindh Human Rights Commission” is serving as a shining example of the positive impacts of human rights-related agencies on the governance framework of the province.

Through its advocacy, oversight, and intervention efforts, this institution has played a vital role in addressing human rights violations, promoting awareness, and advocating for policy reforms. In 2018, the Human Rights and Minority Affairs Department launched the first human rights policy titled, “Punjab Human Rights Policy 2018” for the first time in the history of Pakistan.

The department set up the Punjab Treaty Implementation Cell in 2017 to meet the reporting requirements of the United Nations (UN) agreements and the basic requirements of the European Union’s GSP Plus scheme.

It seems that the HR&MA department is also mostly focused on performing government duties. Undoubtedly, independent human rights commissions serve a crucial function in fostering accountability and transparency within state institutions, consequently bolstering respect for human rights.

However, the absence of such mechanisms can expose the people of the province to potential abuses.

An independent Human Rights Commission in Punjab will act as a catalyst for effective reforms in the system and policy changes aimed at preventing abuses and ensuring accountability.

Moreover, the establishment of an independent HRC will not only bring the province in line with international human rights standards but will also play an important role in the wider development of human rights in Pakistan.

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