Police monitoring: Ministry of Human Rights stalling on complaint cells -Pakistan Press Foundation (PPF)

Paksitan Press Foundtion

Police monitoring: Ministry of Human Rights stalling on complaint cells

By Ali Usman

LAHORE: Provincial and district level cells of the Ministry of Human Rights to monitor human rights violations have not been working for months now, The Express Tribune has learnt. The ministry announced the cells at the district level last September.

There has been no follow-up since then. Provincial level cells have been set-up, since last November, however, they seem to be not working.

The cells were founded on the recommendation of the National Standing Committee for Human Rights. The ministry had put the district cells under the supervision of the provincial level cell.

In Punjab, a cell was made which comprised Human Rights Department regional director Arshad Mahmood Malik, additional inspector general (AIG) (Research and Development) Khuda Baksh Awan and civil society activist Iftikhar Mubarik.

District police officers (DPOs) were told to constitute the cells at the district level, comprising of a DPO, a ministry representative and two local civil society activists, preferably a man and a woman. “The cells have been constituted; however, they are yet to be notified.” An official of the Directorate of Human Rights told The Tribune. “AIG Awan was transferred and nobody has been appointed in his stead,” he added.

Mubarik told The Express Tribune that after its formation, the cell had one meeting to set its mandate but after that no progress had been made. Mubarik opined that the district level cells should have been formed by now. “The provincial cell has not met since its very first consultative meeting last November.”

An official of the ministry said work had been slow because some officials had been transferred, the secretary had retired and the minister replaced.

Mustafa Nawaz Khokhar, adviser to the prime minister, is now looking after the ministry’s affairs. Khokhar said that the cells would start functioning soon once some ‘problems’ were sorted out.

He said the country’s first National Policy on Human Rights had been drafted and sent to the National Assembly. “A Rs70 million fund for women’s development has now been released, along with a similar fund to be spent for prisioners’ welfare,” he said.

Khokhar said the cells, on both district and provincial levels would soon become functional.

He elaborated that a 24-hour call centre will be set up. He said both the DCO and the DPO would be part of the cell. Human rights violations could be reported in on a toll-free number and action would be taken on the complaint, he added. “We will divide the country into 21 zones. This we will start soon.”
Source: The Express Tribune
Date:6/29/2011