NCJP calls for credible and independent HR commission
LAHORE: The National Commission for Justice and Peace (NCJP) of the Pakistan Catholic Bishop’s Conference appreciated on Tuesday the recent cabinet statement to form a National Commission on Human Rights in Pakistan.
“However the government will have to ensure that the body is independent and credible in formation,” said a statement issued by Archbishop Lawrence J Saldanha and Peter Jacob, the chairperson and executive secretary of the NCJP. The NCJP said that a statutory mandate, operational freedom and enforcement mechanism must be allowed to the body, adding that the proposed commission demands institutional approach, courage and vision. The NCJP said that to improve the human rights situation in Pakistan, the body would have to be apolitical in nature and composed of impartial individuals. The NCJP recommended that the following points be followed to form a Human Rights Governmental Commission:
Firstly, the proposed commission should have tribunal powers to conduct inquiries into human rights violations and give judgements to enforce human rights standards; secondly, the mandate, method and formation of the commission must be clearly defined and respected by state agencies; thirdly, the commission should be empowered to give input to government policies on human rights issues; and fourthly the government should not attach any conditions to the proposed plan.
“The government as well as the civil society should seize this opportunity to reform Pakistan and achieve the social development that has been stalled by customary practices and a crumbling justice system. Examples of national human rights institutions, such as the Truth Commission in South Africa, should guide us to redemptive measures for a just and peaceful Pakistan,” concluded the NCJP.