Islamabad, November 08, 2012 (PPI-OT): The Netherlands Government and The Asia Foundation signed an agreement under which the Netherlands will contribute USD 3.6 million to support the protection and promotion of Human Rights in Pakistan. A new Human Rights Fund (HRF III) will be established.
The agreement for 3 years was signed by the Country Representative of the Foundation in Pakistan, Mr. Gareth Aicken, and by the Ambassador of the Kingdom of the Netherlands, H.E. Mr. Gajus Scheltema.
The HRF III is a follow-up to two earlier human rights programmes, HRF I and II, both funded by the Netherlands and implemented by The Asia Foundation in the period 2008-12. The objective of HRF III is to protect and promote rights of expression, assembly, association and thought (REAT) including religious freedoms in Pakistan, especially at the provincial level and in targeted districts where these rights are most at risk.
HRF III will focus specifically but not exclusively on the right of freedom of religion and belief. It will achieve its objective through a) establishing a network of civil society organizations dedicated to promoting and protecting human rights and b) through increasing public awareness of and support for human rights.
Ambassador Scheltema commended the efforts of the Government of Pakistan and the many non-governmental organizations in improving the human rights situation. He stated that Pakistan has made a number of significant commitments to international human rights standards. He added that “In spite of these commitments, there are still significant legal and practical limitations on the ability of minorities, in particular, to exercise their rights”.
In that context, he also referred to the published Civil Society Statement in response to the official Report on Human Rights recently submitted to the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva. This Statement calls for a stronger political commitment by the Pakistan state for the protection of human rights and for a measureable action plan to address the existing gaps in legislation and law enforcement in the country. According to the Dutch Ambassador, HRF III could be a tool to support all stakeholders in addressing these gaps in a collaborative and constructive manner.
For more information, Contact:
Netherlands Embassy in Islamabad Pakistan
Street No 15 Sector G-5
Telephone: +92 (0) 51 2004 444
Fax: +92 (0) 51 2004 333