Karachi, December 10, 2020— The Human Rights Department, Government of Sindh together with UNDP and the EU celebrated International Human Rights Day to raise public awareness on human rights principles.
A panel discussion in this regard was held, by engaging key officials and human rights experts in a constructive discussion, on strengthening the province’s legislative framework for the protection and promotion of rights. It also discussed available policies and human rights mechanisms that can be accessed by rights holders in Sindh, especially the marginalized community including women, children, people with disabilities, religious minorities and transgender persons. Due to the recent spike in COVID-19 cases, the event was attended by limited number of people who strictly observed all SOPs.
The panelists included Mr. Veerji Kolhi, Special Assistant to Chief Minister Sindh for Human Rights Department; Ms. Shehla Raza, Minister Women Development Department, Sindh; Mr. Syed Qasim Naveed Qamar, Special Assistant to Chief Minister for Empowerment of Persons with Disabilities; Ms. Anis Haroon, former member National Commission on Human Rights; and Mr. Iqbal Detho, member National Commission on the Rights of the Child. A sign language interpreter was also present at the event to interpret the discussion into sign language.
The panelists also discussed the laws passed in Sindh to protect vulnerable groups including: The Domestic Violence (Prevention and Protection) Act, 2013; Sindh Hindu Marriage (Amendment) Act, 2018; Sindh Empowerment of Persons with Disabilities Act, 2018; The Sindh Child Marriage Restraint Act, 2013.
Speaking at the event, Mr. Veerji Kolhi said, “The Human Rights Department, Government of Sindh’s current priority is raising awareness among the people of Sindh regarding their rights. We are working on translating special laws into regional languages so that all citizens, regardless of their faith, gender, age and ability, are aware of what rights they hold. The Human Rights Department is continuously working towards strengthening the human rights structures in Sindh, so that they are strong enough to protect the people and to fulfil Pakistan’s international commitments.”
Ms. Shehla Raza mentioned that “While talking about human rights, we must talk about women’s rights. To safeguard women, Government of Sindh has adopted The Domestic Violence (Prevention and Protection) Act that bans physical torture as well as victimization through psychological, economic and social means. The COVID-19 Pandemic has affected women and children the most and the government is working on prevention through awareness raising, on response through 1094 helpline and on rehabilitation through providing security to the citizens.”
UNDP Pakistan’s Assistant Resident Representative Mr. Kaiser Ishaque congratulated the Sindh Government on their efforts to protect and promote the human rights of marginalized groups through a strong legislative framework. He said that, “UNDP is keen to continue its collaboration with Human Rights Department in Sindh, including supporting the effective implementation of policies protecting the rights of those traditionally left behind, strengthening collection and digitization of human rights data and implementation of Pakistan’s National Action Plan on Business and Human Rights in the province. We also thank the EU for their support in today’s event.”
Ambassador of the European Union to Pakistan, Androulla Kaminara said that the EU is pleased to support the government of Pakistan - and in Sindh - to promote Human Rights and be part of this important event. She added that the EU’s support also includes awareness raising on women’s rights and violence against women, and capacity building of law enforcement and judiciary. The European Union appreciates the collaboration with UNDP as a partner in development and Human Rights.
The event concluded with the Sindh Government making a commitment to support the effective implementation of the legislations, especially those protecting the rights of vulnerable groups, through increased advocacy and awareness raising amongst relevant communities and society at large.
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