The Functional Committee on Human Rights in its meeting on Wednesday took strong notice of non-utilization of funds.
While discussing Arsh and Daman funds, the Committee was informed that
PKR 45 million remain dormant. The Committee showed grave concern towards claims that the Ministry does not come across ample number of cases for which funds may be disbursed. The committee was disconcerted at lack of meetings being held despite rules requiring these to convene on a quarterly basis. It was recommended that the Ministry must organize jail visits and must coordinate with the Jail Superintendents to obtain lists of prisoners in the country so that they could be helped accordingly.
Reviewing details of the Human Rights Relief and Revolving Fund the Committee expressed reservation over the amount allocated and stressed the need to revisit rules so that allocation may be enhanced. It also recommended that the Ministry must coordinate with local NGOs to ensure victims benefit from this funding.
While being briefed about services provided by the Ministry, the Committee was informed that a helpline for advice and referral had been launched and within four years has taken a total of 544,336 calls out of which 37,536 were provided legal advice and 24314 were referred to relevant departments. The Committee was further informed that 200+ lawyers were registered to the service who were associated with the Ministry and attached departments. The Committee emphasized over the need for follow-up and feedback. The need for assisting foreign prisoners who despite serving their terms were languishing in jails due to lack of documentation to go back was asserted as well. Knowledge sharing through conferences conducted on a national level was emphasized.
Discussing women and child protection centres established by the Ministry, the Committee stressed the need to introduce a draft Bill to protect women protection officers, who, due to the nature of their work were at grave risk.
The meeting was chaired by Senator Quratulain Marri and was attended by Senator Kesho Bai, Senator Ayesha Raza Farooq, Senator Sana Jamali, Senator Muhammad Usman Khan Kakar, Senator Kamran Michael, Senator Muhammad Tahir Bizenjo, Senator Prof. Mehr Taj Roghani and senior officers of the Ministry of Human Rights along with all concerned.