“Human Rights & Refugee Rights in the Light of Relevant Laws and Policies”
SHARP (Society for Human Rights and Prisoners Aid) continues its efforts to promote the concept of Human Rights through advocacy, strengthening the institution, protecting the rights of the people particularly women and children, welfare of prisoners, struggling for refugee rights and legal reforms. SHARP/ALAC II since its establishment in Lahore has adopted an integrated approach for progress and empowerment that combines capacity building, networking and advocacy for rights and peace in society. This is based on community mobilization for basic rights and for sensitization of civil and police officials. For that very purpose team time to time arranges training and seminars for the capacity building of different stakeholders. These activities remained very positive not only for propagation of UNHCR, ALAC mandate but also for the promotion of the SHARP.
In the current human rights Scenario, SHARP felt the strong need to conduct such a workshop for the Police officials in the city sensitizing them to take cognizance to the violations committed against Human Rights in the country, because police officers are the protection officers of Human Rights. The main objective of the workshop was to strengthen the bilateral relations with Police officials and ALAC and to enlighten the main objectives of SHARP/ALAC/UNHCR and to update the Police officials about the latest notification regarding status of Afghan Refugees in Pakistan, and applicability of 14 Foreigners Act.
In this regard, on 8th July 2021, SHARP/ALAC II team organized a successful one day training workshop for the police officials on the topic of “Human Rights & Refugee Rights in the Light of Relevant Laws and Policies”, aiming to highlight the current status of Human Rights & Afghan Status in Pakistan. Further objectives included:
- To equipped the participants of the training about Refugee Rights, Mandate of the UNHCR and Legal Status of Afghans in Pakistan
- To provide them with an overview of the principal instruments, monitoring mechanisms and authoritative United Nations bodies relevant to the work of police;
- To get them aware to specific type of human rights violations to which police should be particularly sensitized;
- To sensitize participants about their special role in protecting and promoting human rights in their daily work.
- To sensitize the police officials to have respect for fundamental rights.
- To make them understand that human rights are equal for all human beings whether they are refugees or indigenous ones.
- To disseminate the notion of human rights in its true sense among the participating police officials.
- To share the concept of human rights with reference to UDHR and other international treaties and conventions.
- To make the participants aware of the term refugee and refugee rights, international and local laws protecting these rights.
- To remind the police officials that their duty has great importance in the context of human and refugee rights.
- To apprise them with the legal status of Afghan refugees at present in Pakistan.
- To make the participants feel that they should be humane and kind enough towards the arrested refugees keeping in mind that they are also humans with some rights.
Thus in this way, SHARP is determined to serve all the segments of the society to get them a realization of their rights and bring them to a point where they can speak themselves for their inborn rights that are otherwise promised by the national constitution. It is the prime objective of SHARP to create a human rights friendly Pakistan and for this SHARP is always endeavoring at its best to cover all of its resources and manpower to make this dream come true.
- ALAC-II Team
- 25 Police officials from different Police Stations of District Rahim Yar Khan
REGISTRATION OF THE PARTICIPANTS:
The workshop has been started with the registration of the Participants. All participants were given a form which included their details regarding their name, designation; address with their contacts numbers and most importantly their remarks about the workshop.
RECITATION OF HOLY QURAN
Mr. Hassnain started with the name of Mighty ALLAH and recited the Holy verses of the Holy Quran.
OPENING OF THE WORKSHOP:
Mr. Hamid Latif (Field Manager SHARP-Lahore) performed his services as a stage secretary. He formally welcomed the honorable guests and the participants. Mr. Hamid also highlighted the main objective of arranging this training workshop. After introducing the team members he gave the introduction of Society for Human Rights and Prisoners Aid (SHARP) an Islamabad based Non-governmental organization (NGO) established since 1999 and thesaurus its existence to the concentrated efforts made by a group of lawyers and social workers having strong convictions in the human rights standards set forth in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
SHARP is an implementing partner of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) and is running its Advice and Legal Aid Center Project (ALAC) for Afghan National in Islamabad, Lahore, Karachi, Mianwali, HariPur, Mardan, Kohat, Temargara & Peshawar. SHARP organizes different awareness programs at different forums for promotion of Human Rights, Refugees Rights and to provide free assistance to the poor, deprived and neglected segments of the society. He briefed that being member of the society we should know basic human rights and laws as we all know that Pakistan is the biggest host of refugees.
An Informative Presentation on Human Rights BY
Mr. Mudassir Javed Project Director SHARP:
Mr. Mudassar gave a detailed description on Human Rights and its violation. He elaborated that the basic concept of rights, i-e the right must be regarded as a claim and not a need, as a claim it has to counter balance of obligation and these two coherent perspectives supplement each other, these two elements cannot be separated from the society. The concept of right becomes more reflective as gets adhered to the essentials of an obligation like respect, protection and fulfillment. He gave a detailed account of UDHR (Universal Declaration of Human Rights) and its historical background, the span of its coverage as well as the worldwide response in this regard; he further gave the details of the concerns of Pakistan and other relevant facts and figures.
He presented a comprehensive Slide on Basic Human Rights, and shared a brief list of the rights mentioned in the International Bill of Rights including the issues like freedom from torture or cruelty, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment; equality before the law, freedom from arbitrary arrest, detention or exile, freedom of opinion, expression, peaceful assembly and association, an adequate standard of living, measures to protect the rights of children, and the enjoyment of the highest attainable standards of physical and mental health.
Mr. Mudassar proceeded with the new dimensions added to the UDHR from time to time as different countries had their own reservations regarding UDHR and they, therefore, had accepted and signed the declaration partially; the discussions about such controversies went on and finally in 1690s two protocols came up in order to supplement the previous declaration and therefore, today , the promotion of human rights is guided by what is referred to as the International Bill of Rights; it includes the UDHR and those two treaties, the international Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) and the International Covenant on Economic, Social, and Cultural Rights ( ICESCR).
He stated that there is need to change mind set of the people and reform their thoughts regarding their views and the way they perceive human rights. Every right has corresponding duties; rights are part and parcel of our society, for instance right to get education, housing, food, clothing, security, human dignity, peace etc. He said that security is just like oxygen; no one can touch it or feel it but someone can observe it like human rights. He also elaborated different types of violation of human rights such as injustice, violence, inequality, abuse of power, corruption, wars etc. He highlighted that it is the social responsibility of every individual, society, state, judiciary, public etc to try their best level to safeguard human rights. The law makers inserted all basic rights in the Constitution but it deems necessary to enforce these rights so that it can be implemented in the society from the aristocrat to the down trodden class. Western people are so aware about their fundamental rights that there would be nationwide agitation in case of minor violation against any person or community.
Mr. Mudassar ended his session by a pledge on behalf of SHARP to continuously fight in the cause of human rights with the mission of “To Strive for a Human Rights Friendly Pakistan” He advised the participants from the Police to play their respective role in the improvement of Human Rights situation in our country as they have the responsibility of respecting and hence, fulfilling the rights of their people and thus, restoring the confidence of laymen and prevalence of law. He said that Human rights are being violated just because of injustice in the society. He stressed that State, Judiciary, Public Societies and NGOs are responsible to curtail the violation of Human Rights and these rights must be promoted in society by the above sectors.
He forwarded some solutions for the promotion of Human Rights, among those Political wisdom, making Necessary Legislation and legal reforms, Institutionalization Approach, Implementation mechanisms, awareness rising, and Human Rights education in schools and colleges.
Presentation ON Refugees rights & unhcr mandate BY
Ms. Ghazala Mirza from UNHCR:
Ms. Ghazala gave a presentation on the topic of “Refugee Rights International protection and the Legal Status of Afghans in Pakistan “.She elaborated the Mandate of UNHCR, definition of Refugees and their rights, International Protection, 1951 Convention, 1967 Protocol, Role of UNHCR in protecting the refugees and Due process of law. She further told the audience that Mandate of UNHCR is to provide international protection to refugees and to seek durable solutions for refugees by assisting Governments to facilitate the voluntary repatriation of refugees or their integration within new national communities.
She highlighted the role played by the Government of Pakistan and people to protect Afghan nationals in Pakistan. She also explained the process of asylum as well as the role and responsibilities of asylum seekers in the country of asylum.
She discussed Article A1 (2) of 1951 Convention which defines “who is a refugee” and those elements which defines refugees in detail. She also described the International customary law and threw light on the concept and principle of non- refoulment. She mentioned the responsibilities of a refugee in his / her country of asylum that he should respect laws of the land where he resides.
While talking about the status of current status of Afghan refugees, Ms. Ghazala said they are legal migrants in Pakistan and Government of Pakistan has registered them and issued them POR (Proof of Registration) cards.
She also shared all notifications about the refugee status and their POR cards issued to them by the Government of Pakistan and UNHCR. She also discussed the status of Non-PoR card holders and the role of Government of Pakistan towards this category. Ms. Ghazala discussed with the police participants that how they can deal with the refugees and protects their rights.
She described the current status of the refugees in Pakistan as under:
- During the temporary stay for Afghan Refugee in Pakistan all laws applicable to the local citizens shall apply to Afghan refugees.
- The provisions of the Foreigner’s registration Act and other such rules pertaining to foreigners residing in Pakistan do not apply to the registered Afghan refugees.
The Afghan refugees have, therefore, to earn their livelihood outside the camps in Pakistan to support themselves as well as their families. The movement/presence of Afghan Refugees outside the refugee camps is, therefore, legitimate.
Ms. Ghazala briefed the Obligation of Refugees, 1951 Convention in detail that in the country of asylum (Art. 2): they have to obey regulations and the national law, and they also have to obey policies for maintaining peace and order. She further told that refugees are having some obligations to the United Nations (Art 1.F): They must respect for UN principles similarly they have to respect for UN objectives.
She further elaborated the format and the working of the project DRIVE which is a program mandatory for all the Afghan Nationals who possess the PoR cards having an expiry of 31 December 2015 mentioned on their cards. It is basically renewal of cards process in which new smart cards would be given to the Afghan Nationals with an expiry date of 30th June 2023. This is a free of cost service and it is operational April 2021 and will continue its service for the coming 6 months.40 centers are operational in different cities of the country and MRV Vans will be also be involved in this activity.
Police officials were very receptive to Ms. Ghazala presentation as she kept them engaged throughout by making them explaining the meaning. This method kept the flow of knowledge with Participants till the end as many participants asked questions and made comments with reference to her presentation.
PARTICIPANTS REMARKS REGARDING WORKSHOP
All participants’ remarks were that the workshop organized properly and conducted successfully. They were of the view that such programs are very important to understand human rights and refugee rights in Pakistan. The workshop was arranged with the perspective of raising awareness of fundamental rights and necessities of life required for anyone to lead his life as free citizen of the country. The participants got full awareness of the basic human rights and their application on the society.
Address by Chief Guest Mr. Nadeem Iqbal
Mr. Nadeem Iqbal DSP Head Quarter Rahim Yar Khan graced the closing session of the workshop as Chief Guest. He diligently observed the entire workshop, appreciated, and congratulated the SHARP for arranging such a wonderful awareness session for the Police officials. He shared his personal experience and briefed that such intellectual programs should be promoted for the progress of the entire society. He said that this is the responsibility of all stakeholders of the society to work together for the betterment and uplift of the vulnerable segments of the country. He said that no one is ready to stand up for his own rights or for rights of other people. Anyone who passes by a situation where someone else’s rights are being violated and that person is very well observing the entire scene, does not make an effort of raising voice or does not even make an effort of helping the other person. He further briefed that these workshops must be conducted not only to give awareness to the common person but also to inform officials about their basic rights.
CERTIFICATE DISTRIBUTION ALONG WITH GLIMPSE OF TRAINING
SHARP presented certificates to participants who certified their attendance to the workshop hosted by SHARP and approved by UNHCR. These certificates not only indicate their participation but also the fact that they have acquired valuable knowledge and are up to date with human rights and the situation of refugees in Pakistan and on an international level.
Mr. Mudassar and Mr. Hamid Latif Presented a shield as an honour on behalf of SHARP Pakistan to Mr. Nadeem Iqbal.
Police officials were individually invited on stage and handed certificates by Team of SHARP along with Honourable Chief Guest. Participants collectively expressed their gratitude to SHARP for facilitating them with such an interesting workshop, from which they received valuable knowledge and are up to date with human rights and the situation of refugees in Pakistan and on an International level.