Pak: Zardari signs Human Rights Bill into law

Pakistan President Asif Ali Zardari has given his consent to the National Human Rights Commission Act.

Karachi: Pakistan President Asif Ali Zardari has given his consent to the National Human Rights Commission Act, clearing the way for the formation of an independent body to protect and promote human rights in the country.

However, the body will not have the authority to address or investigate rights violations by members of the armed forces and intelligence agencies, reports The Express Tribune.

The bill, which was passed unanimously by the National Assembly on May 04, 2012, was authorised by Zardari into law at a ceremony held at Bilawal House.

According to the bill, the commission, which will have its headquarters in Islamabad, would comprise of 10 members, headed either by a retired judge of the Supreme Court or by a human rights expert.

The commission will perform its function through petitions and can also take suo motu action. The body can also intervene in any proceeding involving human rights violations pending before a court, and has all the powers of a civil court.

The body will also recommend the adoption of new legislation or the amendment of existing laws.

In addition, the body or any person authorised by it may visit any jail, place of detention or any other institution under the control of the government or its agencies to determine the legality any detention and living conditions.

The commission would, however, be virtually powerless to investigate any allegation of abuse related to an intelligence agency, Human Rights Watch said.

The body will have complete financial and administrative independence. A National Commission for Human Rights Fund will also be established.

A human rights court will be established in Islamabad and an advocate will be appointed by the federal government to ensure swift trials of cases involving human rights violations.


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