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HRW Calls For Military, Intelligence Agencies To Face New Rights Watchdog

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Pakistan President Asif Ali Zardari

Pakistan President Asif Ali Zardari

Human Rights Watch (HRW) has called on Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari not to sign a bill creating a national human rights commission until changes are made to the legislation that would authorize investigations of the military and the intelligence agencies for alleged abuses.

HRW's Asia Director Brad Adams said that "if given teeth," the National Human Rights Commission could play a critical role in improving Pakistan’s dire human rights situation.

On May 4, the Pakistani parliament adopted a measure that would establish an independent human-rights body, with members appointed by a cross-party committee.

It would have the authority to summon witnesses and obtain government documents but would not have the legal authority to probe the military or intelligence agencies.

The law requires presidential approval for it to take effect.

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