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Supporting Pakistan’s new human rights body

Graphic: Jenni Whelan, APF, in conversation with representatives of Pakistan's NHRI

The APF and OHCHR have worked with Pakistan’s newly established national human rights institution to help strengthen the organisation's capacity.

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Promoting and protecting human rights across a vast and diverse country with limited resources is a challenge common to nearly every national human rights institution (NHRI).

In Pakistan, as with many APF member institutions, there is an ongoing challenge to address the incidence of violence and discrimination against vulnerable groups, including women, children, ethnic minorities and transgender people.

These were some of the issues raised during discussions with staff and the leadership team of the National Commission for Human Rights of Pakistan, as part of a project to bolster the capacity of the newly established NHRI.

While legislation was passed in 2012 to establish the Commission, the Chairperson and Commissioners were not appointed until May 2015.

Under its founding legislation, the Commission has a broad mandate and strong powers. These include being able to:

  • Take suo moto notice of human rights violations, allowing the Commission to initiate investigations on its own motion even when no complaint has been filed
  • Intervene in any court proceedings involving alleged violations of human rights
  • Visit jails, places of detention or any other government-controlled institution where persons are detained.

When inquiring into individual complaints made to it, the Commission has all the powers of a civil court and can summon and enforce the attendance and examination under oath of witnesses.


Graphic: Group shot of participants in the capacity assessment program


Representatives from the APF and the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) jointly conducted the capacity assessment with the Commission in Islamabad between 20 January and 1 February 2018.

Meetings were also held with the Commission's key local stakeholders, including representatives of the Ministry of Human Rights, civil society groups and UN agencies.

The capacity assessment is designed to enable the Commission to identify practical and strategic steps they can take to strengthen their institution. It also helps identify those 'capacity gaps' that most urgently need to be addressed.

To date, capacity assessment projects have been conducted with 20 APF member institutions.

During the discussions, the Commission's leadership team spoke of the value in becoming a member of the APF and drawing on the expertise of other NHRIs in the region.

Date: 7 February 2018


Image credits

  1. Jenni Whelan, APF, in conversation with representatives of Pakistan's NHRI - APF
  2. Group shot of participants in the capacity assessment program - APF