Know Your Rights!

Shehri Pakistan breaks down its awareness campaigns into three major categories Governance, Constitutional Literacy and Legal Literacy, each with their own sub-categories.

Governance:

  1. Legislature

This Shehri Pakistan campaign unpacks and explores the legislature as one of the three branches of the government of Pakistan. The importance of understanding the legislature as a law making institution and its limitations and relationship with the other institutions that make up the state is of foundational importance when it comes to understanding how a constitutional democratic state operates.

Objectives:

  1. Provide a useful working definition of the term that can be easily comprehended by viewers
  2. Display the hierarchy in the legislature between the National Assembly and the Senate
  3. Distinguish the functions of the legislature from the other two branches of government i.e. the judiciary and the executive
  4. Display the legislative process i.e. how laws are conceived, debated and passed
  5. Provide an overview of the composition of legislative bodies
  1. Judiciary

An institution as potent as the judiciary continues to be inaccessible to many. It functions and operates in languages that are not only difficult but completely alien to many ordinary citizens. Therefore, it becomes crucial that citizens be made more aware of various aspects of the judiciary in order to be fully empowered because access to the judiciary means access to a means of private and public justice as well as, crucially, access to an institution that can hold the state,laws and lawmakers accountable to the constitution.

Objectives:

  1. To explain the functions of the judiciary
  2. To differentiate the judiciary from the other two branches of government i.e. the legislative and the executive
  3. To explain the hierarchy and jurisdiction of different courts
  4. To make citizens aware of the situation in which they may seek the help of a court of Law
  1. Local Government

Pakistan’s system of governance is structured along federal, provincial and local lines. Local bodies are the lowest tier of governance and cater to grass root concerns. They work directly under the provincial government and oversees a range of issues from sanitation to the registration and issuing of birth and death certificates. The distribution and division of power is such that local government enjoys a relative degree of autonomy in some areas but completely defers to provincial government directives in other areas.

Objectives:

  1. Introduce viewers to legislation on local government
  2. Explain the functions of local government
  3. Display the structure and composition of local government
  4. Highlight issues that citizens may bring to their respective local government representatives
  5. Indicate means through which citizens may contact local government representatives
  6. Highlight the local government level as a meaningful medium of political engagement and participation.

Constitutional Literacy

  1. Right to Information

The right to information is enshrined in the constitution of Pakistan as Article 19A. The article specifically states that “Every citizen shall have the right to have access to information in all matters of public importance subject to regulation and reasonable restrictions imposed by law.”

The right to information is a hallmark of representative government because it directly empowers citizens such that they may hold governments accountable and ensure that state promises are kept.

Objectives:

  1. Direct attention towards constitutional provisions regarding public access to information
  2. Emphasize the importance of the right to information and its impact on the citizen’s capacity to hold the state accountable
  3. Highlight examples of the various types of information that a citizen has a legal right to demand from the state
  4. Provide templates of basic information request forms that may be submitted to various institutions/ministries
  5. Demonstrate the relative ease with which one may demand and acquire information that one is legally entitled to.
  1. Right to Education

The right to education is enshrined in the constitution of Pakistan as Article 25A. Constitutionally speaking, the state of Pakistan is supposed to “… provide free and compulsory education to all children of the age of five to sixteen years in such manner as may be determined by law.”

Objectives:

  1. Direct attention towards and increase awareness of constitutional provisions regarding education
  2. Direct attention towards provincial pieces of legislation on education most notably the provincial education acts
  3. Highlight aspects that are covered under the education acts e.g. private schools in Punjab and Sindh must give at least 10% of their students scholarships
  4. Contextualize and generate an empathic response towards contemporary issues such as corporal punishment in schools, ghost schools, absentee teachers etc.
  1. Right to Life

Under article 9 of the constitution, citizens have a right to life which protects the quality of life of every citizen. It encompasses citizens’ health and wellbeing, right to clean air and environment, access to clean water, unlawful detention, privacy, and happy family life, collective security and much more.

Objectives:

  1. To explain access to clean water as a fundamental right
  2. To highlight Pakistan’s water crisis
  3. To explain the structure of tertiary care hospitals
  4. To make citizens aware of their rights and responsibilities as patients
  5. To instil a sense of responsibility in citizens towards their environment
  1. Right to Movement

Freedom of Movement is a fundamental right (Article 15) that enables all citizens to move freely in the country. The article reads: Every citizen shall have the right to remain in, and, subject to any reasonable restriction imposed by law in the public interest, enter and move freely throughout Pakistan and to reside and settle in any part thereof.

Objectives:

  1. To explain the relatively complex way in which this right manifests for citizens
  2. To highlight the significance of a right that may otherwise not be thought of as important
  3. To explain circumstances in which this right may be reasonably restricted
  1. Right to Access to Public Spaces

Article 26 of the constitution allows the citizens to access public places (excluding places intended for religious purposes) without any discrimination. The article also states that nothing “shall prevent the State from making any special provision for women and children”. Informal or cultural segregation and the manifestation of class differences in the country usually creates an atmosphere that discourages several sections of the society from accessing and making use of public places and services that are otherwise, in principle, open and available to them.

Objectives:

  1. To make clear that this is a constitutionally guaranteed right that all citizens are entitled to
  2. To explain the difference between public and private space/places
  3. To explain why caveats (such as special days for families only) exist
  4. To encourage greater participation and visibility of otherwise marginalized sections of society
  1. Workers’ Rights

This campaign intends to empower all employees and factory workers so that they can secure themselves and protect themselves from disagreeable working conditions, from forced labour, and attain all that is due to them for their service.

Objectives:

  1. To highlight the importance of a contract for employees
  2. To emphasize the importance of proper working conditions, working hours and timely pay
  3. To breakdown the pension system as set by the EOBI
  4. To explain the scope and workings of forced labour in Pakistan
  5. To highlight employee’s right to unionise under article 17
  1. Safeguard Against Discrimination in Services

Article 27 of the constitution reads “(1)  No citizen otherwise qualified for appointment in the service of Pakistan shall be discriminated against in respect of any such appointment on the ground only of race, religion, caste, sex, residence or place of birth”.

Objectives:

  1. To promote the representation of disabled persons in different workplaces
  2. To promote representation of women in different workplaces
  3. To highlight the benefits of diversity in workplaces
  4. To uphold merit as the only deciding factor for hiring and promotions
  1. Due Process and Right to Fair Trial

In Pakistan, the Right to Fair Trial under Article 10 and 10-A was promulgated in the Constitution of Pakistan through the 18th Amendment to the Constitution in 2010, which stipulates that “for the determination of his civil rights and obligations or in any criminal charge against him a person shall be entitled to a fair trial and due process”.

Objectives:

  1. To educate citizens about rights they have from the point they are arrested to when they are presented in court
  2. To educate citizens about different procedures involved post arrest
  3. To highlight illegal practices that law enforcement officers might partake in
  4. To emphasize that all citizens, no matter their crime, have a right to due process and fair trial

Legal Literacy

  1. Traffic Signs

Shehri Pakistan ran a #100Days100Signs campaign in the summer of 2017 which focused on providing, in poster form, a compendium of all the official signs that motorists in Pakistan may encounter. Since these signs are never treated as an educational resource, vehicle owners are unaware of what the majority of signs stand for.

Objectives:

  1. To increase awareness of the meaning of different traffic signs
  2. To motivate vehicle owners to obey traffic rules so that they become responsible on the road

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