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Event Title: Senate Functional Committee on Human Rights

Event Date: 2018-11-05

Senate Functional Committee on Human Rights in its meeting on Monday has asked the Ministry of Interior to take the policy regarding regulating mechanism of INGOs in the country, developed in 2015, to the Cabinet for approval of the government. The Committee was of the view that since the definition of Federal Government has changed as result of a ruling of Supreme Court in 2016, decisions on such important policy matters which were earlier authorised by the concerned ministry should now be taken to the cabinet for soliciting its opinion.

The meeting was held under the Chairmanship of Senator Mustafa Nawaz Khokhar here at the Parliament House on Monday and was attended among others by Senators Keshoo Bai, Hidayat Ullah, Sana Jamali, Dr. Jehanzeb Jamaldini, and Minister for Human Rights Dr. Shireen Mazari, senior officials from ministry of human rights, ministry of interior, deputy commissioner Rawalpindi, Punjab police, PTV, PIERA and representatives of private schools association and aggrieved parents.

The Committee discussed the matter of closure of INGOs in the country and mechanisms/ procedure laid down for the registration of INGOs. The Committee was told by Additional Secretary Interior Muhammad Sadiq that the impression that INGOs have been banned is incorrect and the issue under discussion is not new but is there for the last four years. The Committee was told that INGOs are allowed to work in the socio-economic sectors and some of the organisations had suspect activities going beyond their mandate which led to cancellation of their registration. It was told that at present there are 74 INGOs working in Pakistan undergoing unhindered operations and the government is not making work for any of the organisations difficult. 27 NGOs were denied of registration out of which 9 did not take it up with the ministry further and 18 have gone in appeal. The Committee strongly proposed that the ministry of interior should have made the real reasons of cancellation of registration known so that the INGOs can mould their operations and appeals accordingly. Including the ministry of Human Rights in the registration process and following the due process in finalisation of an appropriate policy were also proposed.

The Committee also sought compliance on its earlier directions regarding provision of reports of Justice Kamal Mansoor and Justice Noor Muhammad Meskanzai on enforced disappearances from the ministry of interior. The Additional secretary told the committee that the documents could not be traced in the ministry and the matter has been taken up with the commission on enforced disappearances. Minister for Human Rights told the meeting that the ministry is working rigorously on the issue and has submitted a proposal to the Prime Minister on tackling the matter through signing the international treaty, working on domestic legislation to make it a punishable offence and forming a truth and reconciliation committee.

The Committee was given a comprehensive briefing by Chairman Private Educational Institutions Regulatory Authority (PIERA) regarding steps taken against undue increase in fee by private schools. It was told that the matter was deliberated upon at length at National Commission of Human Rights as well as a Committee has been constituted under the chair of Federal Ombudsman by the Supreme Court to report on the matter. The Committee decided to defer the matter till the end of the month so that the report can then be discussed.

Regarding the closure of pensions of PTV employees, the Committee after hearing the MD PTV about the financial situation of the state enterprise, asked to present to the Committee a work plan for solving the issue.