ACTION SPEAKS LOUDER THAN WORDS

Islamabad (Shamim Masih): Since assuming his office as Minister for Human Rights in May 2016, Senator Kamran Michael has taken historic measures to ensure protection of basic human rights of common citizens, with a specific focus on the delivery of rights for children, women, marginalized groups and religious and ethnic minority groups in across country.

Earlier, when this government took rule in 2013, Prime Minister Muhammad Nawaz Sharif had appointed Kamran Michael as Minister for Ports and Shipping. However, the responsibilities of Senator Kamran were switched to Human Rights keeping in view his tremendous performance as Minister for Human Rights Punjab. Following taking charge of his new assignment, Kamran Michael has worked day and night to ensure immediate redressal of rights to all minority groups in Pakistan. In this regard, the minister visited various areas of the country to ensure rights to children, women and minorities including prisoners across the country.

The biggest contribution of the federal minister is various laws enacted or tabled in the Parliament to protect minorities’ rights, including Anti Rape, Honor Killing, Criminal Bill Amendment Act 2016, Hindu Marriage Act, Christian Marriage and Divorce Bill, Child and Women Protection Bill, etc. Serious attention has been given by the honorable minister for implementation of Action Plan on Human Rights approved by the Prime Minister during 2016. A task force under the chairmanship of Senator Kamran Michael has been established to expedite the implementation by federal and provincial functions.

In this regard, the minister visited Shaheed Benazir Bhutto Center for Women, and ordered the improvement of basic needs to the victim children, women and groups arriving to seek assistance at the center. He also directed immediate financial and legal support to the victims of domestic violence and provision of immediate security, shelter, food, advocacy and counseling to the victims.

Under the objective of protection and promotion of human rights coupled with attainment of Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), the minister directed to improve the Toll Free Helpline 1099 through which the victims could seek all sorts of assistance free of cost.

In compliance of the minister’s directive, now the victims from across the country can register their complaints and seek assistance on the toll free helpline 1099. This will be available 24/7 very soon. Moreover, other than shelter and food, the complainants can also get legal advice from experts on human rights violations and quick relief is provided to them, their families and other vulnerable segments of the society. The Helpline received 41,510 complaints during the year 2016 while 4969 calls were received for general information and 3,073 victims were provided legal advice and 33,089 were irrelevant/unnecessary calls.

To protect the human rights at grass root level, the federal minister has directed to establish Human Rights Committees at the district levels. The district level committees would be working in collaboration with the local government under the supervision of Federal Ministry for Human Rights to take immediate action on receiving complaints of violation of human rights.

In appreciation of the human rights activists, the ministry of the human rights organized a Human Rights Award ceremony on the occasion of Human Rights Day December 10, 2016 at Awan-e-Saddar where forty activists were given awards for their contributions for human rights by the President of Pakistan.

Promoting the basic rights and interfaith harmony, Ministry of Human Rights in collaboration of Ministry of Railway also launched a Christmas Peace Train. The Ministry of Human Rights also organized Sports Festival for Minorities. The Christmas Peace Train successfully completed its journey from Peshawar to Karachi starting from December 22, 2016 to January 05, 2017. The train was warmly welcomed by people at large at different stations of the country. The World and European Union has appreciated this idea.

Human Rights Ministry has also launched the Human Rights Song, “Rooti Ankh K Anso Ponchein” to promote the humanity. Famous classical singer Shafaqat Salamat and the Federal Minister for Human Rights, Senator Kamran Michael has sung this song.