Human rights panels should be autonomous: Rajnath

New Delhi, Sep 18 (IANS) Home Minister Rajnath Singh on Friday said maintaining the autonomy of the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) and state human rights panels was in the interest of the country.

He assured all possible cooperation from the Centre to make the rights panels stronger and more effective.

Addressing a day-long meeting of the NHRC and state panels here, the home minister said India has a long tradition of attaching importance not only to human rights but also to the rights of all present in the universe.

He said that in order to make the state panels effective, it was necessary to provide them with infrastructure, and financial and human resources.

The home minister said he would look into the recommendations of the Justice G.P. Mathur committee as well as the suggestions emanating from the meeting.

Vacancies in the state panels should be filled, he said.

Rajnath Singh said there would be no problem in moving the recommendation before parliament for an amendment in the Protection of Human Rights Act, 1993 for constitution of Human Rights Commissions in the union territories also.

Referring to some of the concerns on human rights, he said the Centre was seriously looking into the problem of convicted prisoners languishing in jails even after completing their sentences and would solve the problem.

The minister also expressed concern over human trafficking and urged all stakeholders to sit together and prepare an elaborate Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) to stop the menace.

Earlier, speaking on the occasion, Justice Cyriac Joseph, NHRC’s acting chairperson, said it was the constitutional obligation of the state to protect human rights.

“The NHRC and the SHRCs are recommendatory bodies but it is for the government to ensure that these do not remain toothless or paper tiger,” he said.

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