CHRE National Conference calls for concrete steps to strengthen weakening democracy and to improve deteriorating situation of human rights .

Centre for Human Rights Education- Pakistan, an organization working to strengthen democracy, human rights , peace and religious tolerance in the society held a National Conference on September 23, 2016 at Lahore to discuss the Prospects and Challenges to democracy and human rights in Pakistan.

The Conference which was held at the inauguration of CHRE's 7th Annual "Participatory Course on Democracy and Human Rights " was participated by human rights defenders, social activists, journalists, political activists, and students from Sindh, Punjab, KPK, Baluchistan, FATA, and Gilgit Baltistan.

The Conference was Chaired by Professor Dr. Mehdi Hassan, and speakers of the Conference included Mr. I A Rehman (Secretary General Human Rights Commission of Pakistan), Mr. Samson Salamat (Director of Centre for Human Rights Education), Mian Imran Masood (Information Secretary PML-Q), Ms. Sadia Sohail (MPA PTI), Mr. Salman Abid (Columnist & Regional Head of SPO), Mr. Tahir Naveed Chaudhary (Chairman Pakistan Minorities Alliance), Abdullah Malik (President Civil Society Network), Pandit Baghat Lal Khokhar (Representative of Hindu Community), and Pastor Emmanuel Khokhar.

In his opening speech Mr. Samson Salamat said that in today's conference we reiterate loudly our firm belief on democracy and that democracy is essential for a prosperous and human rights friendly Pakistan and it has the capability to deal with the crises prevailing in the country.

Mr. Samson Salamat regretted that "the situation of human rights was deteriorating in the country day by day which is a matter of grave concern and human rights does not seem the priority of the government despite the fact that Pakistan is duty bound to implement the International Human Rights Standards and fundamental human rights and freedoms are guaranteed in the Constitution of Pakistan".

"Human rights should be given a priority to make our society a human rights friendly society where all citizens are treated equally without any discrimination but unfortunately the fundamental freedoms including the freedom of speech, peaceful assembly, association and freedom of religion and belief are under threat in Pakistan while the a huge portion of our population is deprived of education, health, safe drinking water, electricity and other basic facilities in the 21st Century" Mr. Samson Salamat added.

Mr. I A Rehman stressed upon the need of pro-people policies to strengthen democratic system and to advance the situation of human rights including of women, minorities, children, workers and others weak segments of the society.

Professor Dr. Mehdi Hassan criticized upon the distortion of history which led to the creation of different confusions in the society and demanded that the history should be corrected. He further emphasized that the speech of the founder of Pakistan Quaid-e-Azam Mohammed Ali Jinnah to the Constituent Assembly on 11th August 1947 should be made part of the preface of the Constitution of Pakistan and the syllabus of the educational institutions.

The participants at this occasion also expressed their concerns over the growing tension between India and Pakistan and appealed that both nations should resolve all their conflicts including Kashmir issue through a dialogue process, and refrain from any war activities as it is always a mean of sever human rights violations especially any war will be a huge threat to the lives of billions of human beings living in both countries.

The speakers and the participants unanimously resolved that

a) International Commitments should be fulfilled and the International Human Rights Standards should be implemented in letter and spirit.

b) All forms of discriminations on the basis of religion, sect, social status or in any other form should be ended.

c) Disadvantaged people including gypsies, trans-genders, sanitary workers, religious minorities, the brick kiln workers, and Persons with Disabilities need special attention and therefore immediate measures should be taken to ensure non-discrimination, free education, healthcare, clean environment, fair wages for these segments of the society.

d) All forms of slavery on brick kiln factories, in the agriculture sectors, or in other sectors should be checked thoroughly and necessary steps should be taken for its abolishment.

e) Sanitary workers normally operate in very inhumane working conditions and therefore proper safety measures should be provided and they should be treated with respect.

f) Legislation should be made for the rights of the Person with Disabilities to give them equal opportunities and status in the society.

g) Trans-genders need special attention of the society, especially of the government and state institutions to end discriminatory attitudes towards them.

h) Keeping in view the frequent threats and killings to the working journalists and the human defenders, a comprehensive policy should be developed in consultation with relevant stake-holders.

i) All forms of discrimination and violence against women should be ended through proper legislation and policies in the light of CEDAW Convention, especially the legislation should be made to criminalize domestic violence and to control early child marriages.

j) A comprehensive child rights policy in the light of Child Rights Convention should be made and implemented. Provincial Commission on the Rights of the Children should be established in all the Provinces.

k) All sorts of hate speech should be stopped and those responsible in spreading hatred and violence should be apprehend and dealt according to the law.

l) Independent National and Provincial Commissions on Minorities should be established through an Act of Parliament in consultation with relevant stakeholders to assess and address the issues of religious minorities in the country.