LAHORE: The Centre for Social Justice (CSJ) on Monday urged the Standing Committee on Religious Affairs and Interfaith Harmony and the federal ministries for human rights as well as law and justice to expedite setting up of the long-awaited National Commission for Minorities’ Rights.
According to a press statement, in letters addressed to the Ministry of Religious Affairs, the CSJ has requested to avoid the use of negative and divisive characterisation of the religious communities, such as non-Muslims and non-Christians.
“Each person and community is entitled to be recognised by the faith of their choice and not by the portrayal of what they are not or how they are seen by others. The vocabulary used in the national documents should, in particular, discourage ‘otherisation’ or estrangement among the citizens of Pakistan,” the statement read.
The CSJ stressed that an institutional arrangement had become crucial for the protection of the rights of minorities. Peter Jacob, the executive director stated, “It has nearly been four years since the Supreme Court passed orders and over two years since the Action Plan for Human Rights that promised to constitute a National Commission for Minorities’ Rights, however, the federal government has failed to introduce any legislation for this purpose in the parliament.”
The CSJ further demanded that the proposed commission must have a mandate to monitor policies, protect and promote the rights of minorities as well as contribute advice on policy matters in order to comply with the court’s orders issued on June 19, 2014.
The proposed commission should also have powers like the National Commission for Human Rights (NCHR), to investigate and provide remedies in accordance with UN Paris principles and independent from any political influence.
“The members of the proposed commission should be appointed on merit and the membership should not be limited to persons belonging to religious minorities in order to make it an empowered and operational body,” concluded the statement.