ISLAMABAD:(APS)Nov 26,2015-Pakistan must stop dealing with its many internal displacement situations in an ad hoc manner and adopt a specific framework in line with internal standards on displacement. This was the consensus opinion of the participants at a consultation organised by the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP) on Thursday.
The participants included representatives of civil society organisations, lawyers, economists and citizens who were or had been IDPs, mainly from the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA) and organisations working for IDPs.
The speakers said that the authorities in Pakistan were either unaware of the international standards on displacement or were intentionally ignoring them. They said that despite internal displacement rising to unprecedented levels in Pakistan over the last decade, the refusal to benefit from UN Guiding Principles on Internal Displacement and other standards was contributing to the challenges for the government and the internally displaced persons (IDPs). They said civil society organisations and host communities helping out IDPs did not absolve the state of its responsibility to assist and protect the IDPs.
The main recommendations at the consultation included the following:
- Rather than dealing with internal displacement in an ad hoc manner, Pakistan must adopt a proper human rights-based legal policy framework which should reflect the many lessons that the world had learned from its experience of various phases of displacement.
- The right to be free from arbitrary displacement should be recognised. A comprehensive definition of who is an IDP should be adopted and applied in a non-discriminatory manner. Selective application of the term IDP, especially discriminating depending on where displacement occurred, must be outlawed.
- Every effort should be made to prevent involuntary displacement from occurring and minimise it where it is inevitable.
- The fact of displacement should not deprive a person of all the rights he is entitled to as a citizen of Pakistan.
- The need to raise awareness of the existence, scale and nature of internal displacement
- A system for the collection of relevant data on displacement in a comprehensive and disaggregated manner must be given due priority.
- Institutional focal points for internal displacement issues should be developed at the national and provincial levels.
- An autonomous institution like the National Human Rights Commission should be given the authority to monitor and report on the respect and protection of IDPs.
- IDPs must be consulted and involved in all matters affecting them during all phases of displacement.
- Pakistan should develop and benefit from a trained volunteer cadre for disaster management. Girl guide and boy scout cadres should also be utilised.
- The witnessing and delivery role for NGOs need to facilitated and not made more difficult. Imposition of conditions for civil society organisations such as seeking no-objection certificate (NOC) before offering assistance to IDPs must be done away with.
- Prior and pre-arranged protection and assistance mechanisms for vulnerable segments, such as children, women, persons with disabilities and members of religious minority communities, should be ensured. The protection and assistance for such individuals should take into account their special needs and should guard against discrimination.
- Lack of identity documented must not lead to denial of assistance. Alternative steps for provision of lost identity papers should be put in place.
- Wherever peace had been restored in a situation of conflict displacement, civilian authorities must be handed back control of rehabilitation and development.