(Avocats pour les droits de l’homme et l’assistance juridique, Pakistan)
03 / 1993
LHRLA (Lawyers for Human Rights and Legal Aid)is a Pakistani organisation formed by a group of lawyers in 1989 to make up for the lack of legal assistance open to the more disadvantaged sections of the population such as women, children, refugees, the illiterate or the financially deprived.
Faced with lengthy and expensive litigation, many victims of human rights violations, either because they are unaware of their legal rights or because they have a very negative view of the legal system, choose to suffer in silence.
While several individuals are already working on human rights issues, LHRLA founder members feet very strongly the need to build a platform where the questions of the violation of human rights can be treated collectively and globally.
Apart from free legal aid given to individuals (mainly women and children - particularly vulnerable categories unaccustomed to defending themselves)during their trial or detention, LHRLA also adopts extra-judicial conflict resolution practices by acting as mediator. Moreover LHRLA has developed a paralegal training programme, the first course of which was held in December 1991.
LHRLA trainers give talks on the legal system to the population in rural areas, they hold public meetings and show videos. The literacy rate in Pakistan is less than 20% and the corresponding figure for women is much lower (just 13%).
LHRLA has set itself the task of using its influence on the government and public opinion to instigate the introduction of prison’s reforms, thus ensuring an improvement in the treatment of detained juveniles, and the repeal of discriminatory laws for women and children such as those concerning marriage, women’s status, child labour.
By approaching other law enforcing agencies directly (the army and the police), the LHRLA can develop its education and prevention activities.
In order to appreciate the full significance of LHRLA’s actions one has to look at them in the Pakistani context. Forty four years after its creation the country is still aspiring to stability. Its public life is punctuated by alternating military dictatorships and attempts at democratisation. Islam was thought to be strong enough to cement together these many varied populations. Different groups of people are subject to discrimination and serious violations of their legal rights on ethnic or religious grounds. Recently the government decided to suspend the introduction on the national identity card the mention of religious denomination aimed principally at Christians and Ahmadis. The condition of women and children also has to be taken into account as certain of their social liberties are challenged by islamisation. Therefore the actions of the LHRLA and other organisations which try to inform and educate these marginalised populations are essential.
Original card in French in Dph data base. The ’title/sub-title’ field corresponds to the ’translated title’ field in the French card.
This card was produced from an introductory booklet, interviews and statistical data.
Contact : LHRLA=Lawyers for Human Rights and Legal Aid, 702 Mohammadi House - Karachi 74200 - Pakistan - Tel 2415529 Person to contact: Mrs PINTO.