ISLAMABAD: (APP) Federal Minister for Human Rights Senator Kamran Michael on Wednesday said the Ministry of Human Rights (MOHR) is taking various administrative and policy initiatives to curb gender based violence in the country.
Taking notice of growing incidents of honour killings and violence against women he said that the ministry is undertaking various steps including formulation of National Policy guidelines on Gender Based Violence (GBV) and establishment of new crisis centers for women .
Furthermore standardization of existing services at district level, legislation of Domestic Violence (Prevention and Protection) Bill 2013 and effective operationalization of Women in Distress and Detention Fund would be ensured.
He said that presently Family Protection and Rehabilitation Centre for Women (FPRCW) is working to protect women against all kinds of violence and discrimination and offering free medical aid free legal aid, psycho-social counseling as well as a shelter home to support victims of violence.
He further stated that the ministry is also conducting studies to review all discriminatory legislation against women.
The minister informed that under the National Plan of Action for Human Rights, a National Task Force with federal and provincial representation has been notified which will soon review the implementation status of the Action Plan.
Kamran Michael said as an immediate step, functioning of "Help Line 1099" has been made more robust to provide legal advice and redressal assistance to victims of human rights violations.
"National Commission for Human Rights is also functioning with a broad mandate under the NCHR Act, 2012 which provides the commission powers to take suo-moto action on the incidents of human rights violations", Kamran Michael said.
He also stated that a comprehensive programme for raising public awareness on human rights issues focusing on right to life, dignity of human life, tolerance and interfaith harmony with special emphasis on the rights of women, minorities, children, elderly and persons with disabilities had been finalized with a budgetary support of Rs. 250 million in FY 2016-17.
The Minister pointed out that the Criminal Law (Second Amendment) Act,2016 has been recently enacted, increasing the minimum age of criminal responsibility from seven years to ten years while Islamabad Capital Territory (ICT) Child Protection Bill, 2016 providing protection and care to children in Islamabad Capital Territory from all forms of physical or mental abuse, National Commission on the Rights of the Child Bill, 2015 and the Juvenile Justice System Bill, 2016 for social-reintegration of the child offenders, are under process of legislation.
Speaking on International commitments, he said that Pakistan has ratified seven Core Human Rights Conventions and efforts are underway for implementation of Core Human Rights Conventions at the grassroots level, he informed.
The Ministry is establishing Treaty Implementation Cells at Federal and Provincial levels to ensure implementation of international conventions. In this regard, a Training Module has also been prepared for capacity building of relevant Federal and provincial departments, the minister said.
He further mentioned that All Human Rights Conventions and UN Guidelines have been translated into national language for better understanding of the general public.
Talking about the future initiatives the Minister also vowed to form Human Rights Committees at different forums including at district levels to keep an effective check on HR violations at grassroots levels and institute a speedy response. He stated that Complaint Cells are also being established at national and regional offices for redressal of human rights violation cases.
He also hinted at establishment of Human Rights Institute of Pakistan, for which Rs. 150 million have been allocated in the budget. He further stated that Rs. 100 million allocated in the budget in lieu of endowment for legal support of poor victims of human rights violation will be used diligently for their aid.
Speaking on initiatives for minorities he said that the Hindu Marriage Bill, 2015 passed by the assembly is a landmark legislation and stated that Christian Marriage (Amendment) Bill 2013 and Divorce (Amendment) Bill are also under process for legislation.
He said that Ministry is also in the process of bringing legislation to enhance the representation of minorities in National Assembly and Senate.
On protection of children against violence he said that effective enforcement of laws for protection of children from trafficking for prostitution, organ transplant, forced labor, drug smuggling, begging, forced child marriages is being considered.
On Jail reforms the minister stated that regular visits of Jail to monitor the conditions of inmates and provide assistance to foreigners and those with minor crimes will be conducted and a comprehensive Jail Inmates Rehabilitation Program will also be launched.