The 1973 Constitution of Pakistan is intended to guide rule of law, its enforcement, and the governance of its institutional system. It identifies the state (its physical existence and its borders), people and their fundamental rights.
Federal & Provincial human rights legislation that protects the rights of women, children, differently abled, elder persons, transgender persons, minorities, prisoners and other marginalized and vulnerable groups in Pakistan.
There are 7 core international human rights conventions ratified by Pakistan. International human rights law lays down obligations for States. They are enshrined in international human rights treaties binding only on those States which consent to be bound by them (State parties). The United Nations Human Rights Treaty System comprises of nine treaties, usually referred to as the “core international human rights treaties,” which together form the cornerstone of all efforts to promote and protect human rights at national and international levels.
International conventions cover areas including trade, disarmament, and human rights. A convention becomes legally binding to a state when that state ratifies it. Signing a convention indicates support for the principles of the convention and the country’s intention to implement these principles to protect and promote and rights of all citizens.
International labour standards are legal instruments drawn up by the ILO's constituents (governments, employers and workers) and set out basic principles for labour, daily wage earners and the rights to livelihood and work.
The Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union brings together important personal rights and freedoms guaranteed of all citizens of the EU in to one legally binding document.
The Generalised Scheme of Preferences (GSP) was created to help developing countries integrate into the world economy. The GSP+ is a special incentive arrangement for sustainable development and good governance. A dozen countries have GSP+ mechanisms in place. These mechanisms incentivize the promotion and protection of human rights through trade subsidies and other economic benefits.
In order to maintain GSP+, Pakistan has to keep ratification and effectively implement 27 international conventions on human rights, labour rights, and environmental protection.
Pakistan's status and progress in fulfilling its international treaty obligations and monitoring and reporting Pakistan’s progress regarding core human rights conventions are reflected in yearly GSP+ assessments reports.
The Ministry of Human Rights is a federal government agency dedicated to protecting and promoting the rights of citizens in Pakistan. The Federal Minister is Shireen Mazari, the Federal Secretary is Inamullah Khan, and the Joint Secretary is Muhammad Akhtar Abbas.
The committees monitor government activities, identify issues suitable for legislative review, gather and evaluate information, and recommend courses of action to the Parliament.
Provincial Human Rights Departments are set up in Punjab, Sindh, Balochistan, GB, & KPK. These departments are responsible for promoting and protecting human rights at the provincial and district level. With varying human rights law governing the provinces, these departments are responsible for building awareness around provincial protection systems for citizens and the development and implementation of the provincial human rights policy.
Treaty Implementation Cells are aimed at implementing, monitoring and reporting Pakistan’s international Treaty Obligations. Cells work on Pakistan’s international Treaty commitments, in order to identify the gaps in implementation of the said treaties. Cells also intend to digitalize reporting mechanisms, making them more efficient and reliable.
These systems include a number of human rights commissions and representative officials to protect and promote human rights in Pakistan. Often structured within ministries, statuary bodies include the National Commission on the Status of Women (NCSW), National Commission on the Rights of the Child (NCRC), National Commission of Human Rights in Pakistan (NCHR), among other integral institutions that make up the human rights governance framework in Pakistan.
The 1973 Constitution of Pakistan is intended to guide rule of law, its enforcement, and the governance of its institutional system.
It identifies the state (its physical existence and its borders), people and their fundamental rights.
Constitution of Pakistan
The Fundamental Rights of each Pakistani citizen are covered under Chapter II, Article 8 to 28. According to Article 8, laws which contradict or infringe upon the Rights granted in this Chapter are void.
The Chapter further states that all citizens are equal under the law and bars discrimination on the basis of sex. There is an added element of non-discrimination in public places on the basis of race, religion, caste, sex, residence or place of birth with an added clause specifying special provisions for women and children. There is also a prohibition on any special tax of any particular religion other than an individual’s own religion and an added safeguard for educational institutions which states any person attending an educational institution will not be required to attend or participate in religious ceremonies or instruction which is not in accordance with his/her own religion. It also highlights the preservation and promotion of language, script and culture of any citizens to which such distinctive categories apply.
Chapter II also provides safeguards pertaining to arrest and detention, and prohibits slavery, including human trafficking and forced labour, along with a provision to protect individuals against retrospective punishment and protection from double punishment and self-incrimination. The privacy of home and dignity of man has also been enshrined and interlinked with the prohibition of torture for the purpose of extracting evidence.
Articles 29 to 40 are referred to as Principles of Policy.
The State is to discourage parochial, racial, tribal, sectarian and provincial prejudice and has to take steps to promote the participation of women in national life along with an added provision on the protection of family, mother and child and minorities including their representation in Federal and Provincial services.
Under Article 37, a provision focusing on “promotion of social justice and eradication of social evils” has been added. It covers a wide range of categories such as supporting educational and economic interests of marginalized groups by providing free compulsory secondary education, promoting availability of technical and general education and making higher education accessible, ensure inexpensive and expeditious justice, ensuring humane conditions of work, maternity benefits, etc.
Article 38 focuses on the “promotion of social and economic wellbeing of the people.” It stresses on the State to secure the wellbeing of the people “irrespective of sex, caste, creed or race by preventing the concentration of wealth…” Other provisions under the Article focus on providing “basic necessities of life, such as food, clothing, housing, education and medical relief … irrespective of sex, caste, creed, or race, … unable to earn their livelihood on account of infirmity, sickness or unemployment.”
Enabling people to join the Armed Forces has also been specified. Lastly, Article 40 encapsulates the notion of Islamic unity between Pakistan and other Muslim nations and to support and promote international peace and security and encourage the settlement of international disputes by peaceful means.