AGHS Legal Aid Cell

In 1980 Asma Jahangir co-founded AGHS Legal Aid Cell with Hina Jilani, Gul Rukh Rehman and Shella Zia. It was the first all female law firm providing quality legal aid to vulnerable and marginalized groups in Pakistan. In 1987 AGHS Legal Aid Cell was registered as a non-profit society in Pakistan under the Societies Act 1860. AGHS is now the leading non-profit organization that is providing free legal representation to marginalized people and is a frontrunner in constitutional and family related legal work.

AGHS was the first to raise the issue of women and girls being killed in the name of honour and the rights of bonded labourers. Some of AGHS’s Board members and staff have been physically attacked, held hostage, threatened and vilified for promoting women and minority rights. AGHS has been at the forefront of the women’s movement and played a decisive role through street protests against General Zia-ul-Haq’s anti women and minorities legislation, the Hudood Ordinances and the Law of Evidence. The firm also co-founded the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan and South Asians for Human Rights.

AGHS has had a huge impact in initiating and drafting legal reforms in Pakistan for the promotion of human rights. It has helped change the law through taking up free cases and forming judicial precedents that have changed the lives of thousands. Through its advocacy, media campaigns and fact-finding missions AGHS has helped thousands of women and children who are victims of violence and unfair laws.

Human Rights Commission of Pakistan

The Human Right Commission of Pakistan (HRCP) was established in 1987 as an independent non-government organization. Since then it has developed to become an influential country wide human rights body. The HRCP has established a leading role in providing a highly informed and objective voice on a national level in the struggle for the provision of human rights for all and democratic development in Pakistan. HRCP’s role in highlighting human rights abuses has been recognized not only on a national level but also internationally.
Besides monitoring human rights violations and seeking redress through public campaigns, lobbying and intervention in courts, HRCP organizes seminars, workshops and fact finding missions. It also issues a monthly magazine in the Urdu language called Jehd-i-Haq and an annual report on the state of human rights in the country, available in both English and Urdu.
The main office of the secretariat is in Lahore while HRCP maintains a presence through branch offices in Karachi, Peshawar, and Quetta. Special Task Forces in Hyderabad, Sukkur, Multan, Turbat/Makran, and Gilgit report issues from their areas and attend important meetings and seminars on HRCP’s behalf.

South Asians for Human Rights

SAHR is a democratic regional network with a large membership base of people committed to addressing human rights issues at both national and regional levels. SAHR aims at fostering the concept of multiple South Asian identities by enabling people to realise their ideals and aspirations for peace, democracy, secularism and human security, while promoting pluralism in approaches towards social, political, economic and cultural development of different communities, ethnic, linguistic, religious and other groups.
SAHR seeks to contribute to the realisation of South Asian peoples’ right to participatory democracy, good governance and justice by strengthening regional response, including regional instruments, monitoring human rights violations, reviewing laws, policies and practices that have an adverse impact on human rights and conducting campaigns and programmes on issues of major concern in the region.
SAHR’s basic policy is to identify the gaps in regional initiatives and to undertake activities which do not duplicate the work carried out by other regional or national NGOs. Its strength and legitimacy comes from its democratic structure and broad-based membership of recognised human rights defenders in the region.