The Sindh Human Rights Commission (SHRC) on Friday launched its annual report that covers the activities and initiatives undertaken by the commission in 2018-19.
The SHRC is a statutory body established under the Sindh Protection of Human Rights Act 2011 with statutory powers to inquire into cases by taking suo moto notice of complaints, to inspect public spaces such as hospitals, jails, Darul Amans, and recommend remedial measures to the government.
According to the annual report, the SHRC registered 337 individual human rights violation cases from June 2018 to June 2019. Out of these, 190 pertained to the complaints and petitions filed with the commission and 147 were suo moto notices. The majority of the cases originated from Karachi, where the number of petitions registered rose from 65 to 114, marking a 43 per cent rise.
Human rights violations against women cover complaints under domestic violence, sexual harassment, kidnapping, illegal occupation of property and other miscellaneous cases. Complaints of murder and child marriages were also field by the victims’ families.
The commission also took cases of discrimination against religious minorities at workplace. In the last year, the commission also organised several public hearings in various districts of the province, intervened in minority rights violation cases, water, and environment issues, labour rights violations and issues of sanitary workers. It measured the impact of the Jirga system on the human rights situation in the Sindh province. It took notice of and initiated action over 337 individual human rights violations in the province.
Before the report launch ceremony was held at local hotel, the SHRC organised a seminar aimed at identifying the reasons behind the growing number of suicides taking place in Sindh.
Provincial minister Syeda Shehla Raza, Dr Haroon Ahmed of the Pakistan Association of Mental Health and Dr Azhar Mirza of the Pakistan Medical Association were key panelists, while Karamat Ali, Anis Haroon, a former member of the National Commission for Human Rights, and Justice (retd) Shah Nawaz Tariq, the ombudsman for the Commission Against Harassment at the Workplace, also spoke.
The SHRC chairperson said that the commission visited Thar — the district considered to be the most vulnerable with respect to suicides — in November. “To understand the situation better, the commission met with the locals, including civil society, media and government officials of the district,” she said. “Poverty, customs, marginalisation, social and class discrimination were cited by locals as the reasons for the increasing number of suicide cases in Thar. While issues related to mental health were also pointed out as the cause of rise with respect to the issue.”