Participants of consultation demand enabling legal framework for CSOs, national institutions for protection of human rights

Peshawar    -   Civil Society Organizations, in a multi-stakeholder consultation, called for measures to improve mutual cooperation and support among government and Non-Profit Sector to promote human rights and sustainable development in the country.

According to a press release issued here on Friday, the consultation was organized by Blue Veins, Pakistan Youth Change Advocates, and TRCP, non-governmental organizations, to discuss and explore effective strategies, activities, measures, and initiatives to improve greater access to resources how civil society can engage meaningfully at provincial and the national level for improved participation and compliance processes.

The participants of the consultation demanded an enabling legal framework and a conducive political and public environment for CSOs and national institutions for the protection and promotion of human rights.

The participants in detail discussed the National and provincial legislations and regulatory frameworks including the draft of the new EAD Policy, Provincial Legislation towards collecting charity, and other mechanisms to obtain NOCs.

The members of the civil society organizations appreciated Economic Affairs Division EAD for exempting local NGOs from signing MoUs with the EAD to support flood affectees during emergency situation in Pakistan.

The member of the Civil Society Organizations demanded the Federal and Provincial Governments should establish communication channels for effective coordination and must ensure that regulations on funding for CSOs comply with international human rights standards.

Ishtiaq Gillani, Founder/Member of the All Pakistan NGO Alliance (APNA) said, “The government should focus on engaging CSOs as important, strong and independent partners in strengthening and promoting development, improving service delivery, and making the government more responsive to the needs and aspirations of the citizens.”

It was discussed that over the last few years the banking system in Pakistan has made it more difficult for NGOs to have access to banking services.

Some of the issues that NGOs have been facing with banks is not opening accounts of NGOs and closing bank accounts without prior warning. The limited access to banking services may also increase the risk of using alternative forms for turnover of financial means which is not legal.

Sherkan Malik, Program Director TRCP said, “FATF Recommendation 8 does not apply to the NPO sector as a whole. Government authorities and stakeholders should take a targeted approach to implement the measures called for in Recommendation 8, including oversight and regulatory mechanisms, based on an understanding of the diversity of the NPO sector in Pakistan on the other hand the NPOs must improve their compliance and reporting mechanism to existing regulatory frameworks.”

Qamar Naseem, Program Manager Blue Veins said that “We acknowledge the positive steps which the Government of Pakistan has taken to counter terrorist financing and money laundering. Civil Society Organizations must be free to operate as they provide vital contributions to the cultivation of an open and vibrant democracy in which human rights are protected and promoted.”

Moreover, he said, “We encourage the authorities to put in place measures, in consultation with others including civil society, that could mitigate the gaps to ensure that the enforcement of regulatory policy framework does not lead to violations of the right to freedom of association.”