Hazardous working conditions, insufficient safety gear and equipment, lack of job security, low compensation for cases of hurt and death and the recounting of heart breaking stories of non-Muslim sanitary workers marked the launching of a report titled “Unequal Citizens: Ending Systemic Discrimination against Minorities.
National Commission for Human Rights , with the support of European Union , launched its fact finding report that highlights plight of sanitary workers who are facing societal ostracisation, stigma, discrimination and death in the deadly manholes that they sought to unclog.
Speaking on the occasion, Chief Guest Federal Minister for Human Rights Mr. Riaz Hussain Pirzada said discrimination against minorities is one of the foremost human rights issues that MoHR is committed to addressing.
On the basis of the letter sent by NCHR, MoHR took immediate action and issued a letter to the Chief Secretaries of each province, directing them to ensure the protection of minority rights in line with international obligations and constitutional guarantees, said Pirzada.
Federal Minister for Poverty Alleviation and Social Safety Shazia Marri stressed for sensitization of relevant government departments on unconscious biases that lead to discrimination against minorities. She condemned all the discriminatory and said that the condemnation shall come loud and clear from all segments of the society.
In his keynote address, Chief Justice Islamabad High Court Justice Ather Minallah said his three ideal judges from Pakistan’s judiciary are from minority. He said that conferences and court judgments are not enough unless a proactive role is played by the government, civil society and media.
Chief Justice IHC said that it was the obligation of the state to encourage, cultivate and promote diversity. “Human rights violations occur because of the abuse of rule of law. Under constitution, every citizen is equal. Still we have the term “ordinary citizen” commonly used.”
He said that every year, President of Pakistan is obligated to submit a report on the status of implementation of “Principles of Policy” of the constitution which ensures basic human rights.
Regrettably, this constitutional obligation has never been fulfilled by any president or the governor, he said.
Chairperson NCHR Rabiya Javeri Agha briefed the participants on findings of the report. She said following the nationwide consultations with civil society and minority groups, several important human rights violations were repeatedly brought to the notice of the Commission.