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Major issues, poor response

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ANY bit of information that exposes misgovernance or any hardship to citizens doesn’t make newspaper headlines. Much of such information is tucked away at the bottom of newspapers’ columns, often found in the inside pages. But some of these matters have serious implications for citizens’ rights.

More than a month has passed since the first four-year term of the National Commission for Human Rights (NCHR) expired. No public notice, in favour or against, seems to have been taken. The government might have been relieved because, like any other government, it cannot like an independent national human rights institution (NHRI), and the media is much too afraid to deviate from the establishment’s whim or caprice.

The NCHR was created after years of public clamour, but it was a reluctantly delivered child. The law providing for it was adopted in 2011 but the appointment of the chairperson and members was delayed and the commission was able to start functioning only in 2015. And it never received the government support it needed and deserved.

However, it goes to the credit of retired justice Ali Nawaz Chohan, the much misunderstood chairperson, and his team of members who represented the provinces and the minority communities, that they did try to fulfil their mandate. Except for the somewhat controversial opinion on the Okara tenants’ rights, the 38 reports the commission released constitute a strong base for the defence and promotion of human rights in the country. These reports cover a wide variety of themes, from sexual abuse........

© Dawn