ISLAMABAD, Nov 30: A bill on enforced disappearances was proposed to the Senate Standing Committee on Human Rights on Friday.
The key feature of the bill is that it seeks to clearly define the role and functions of the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) agency.
The bill has been prepared by a subcommittee comprising Senator Farhatullah Babar (convener), Ms Nasreen Jalil and Ms Suriya Amiruddin.
“The ISI is the premier national institution responsible for protecting, preserving and promoting the integrity and security of Pakistan against external as well as internal threats,” Senator Babar briefed the committee members.
“It must be vested with legal powers to detain, interrogate and prosecute suspects so as to enable it to deal effectively with challenges of national security,” he said and added: “The judicial system is not equipped either with law or prosecution capacity to meet the challenge of terrorism.”
Mr Babar said that the Commission on Enforced Disappearances in its report had recommended that appropriate legislation needed to be done to provide specific powers of arrest and detention to the army and law-enforcement agencies for a limited period under special circumstances in order to curb anti-state activities.
“Only clear definition of powers of the intelligence agencies can put an end to new cases of enforced disappearance,” he told the committee.
“Agencies should give suspects who have been picked up the allegation in writing within one week of their arrest. All suspects should be produced in court within 30 days of their arrest,” he stated.
Senator Babar concluded that law-enforcement departments must work independently because that was how they could win the trust of the people.
Mushahid Hussain Syed, of Pakistan Muslim League-Q, said that the proposed bill should be sent to the Ministry of Human Rights, Ministry of Interior and other relevant departments, and civil society and relatives of missing persons should be involved through open hearing to get their input. “Legislation is necessary because people are being picked up by agencies and when we talk to agencies they say that there is no law covering their working,” he said.
Earlier in the meeting, the issue of unnecessary check posts at various points in Islamabad, which hurdle smooth commute, and the discourteous behaviour of police personal deployed at these posts particularly at night-time was also taken up.
While discussing the issues of Pakistan Institute of Medical Sciences, Mushahidullah Khan said that he had five operations in Pims but quality of service is continuously going down.