Bill being drafted to declare enforced disappearance criminal offence: Mazari

Published January 29, 2019
Says bill to amend Pakistan Penal Code sent to law ministry.— AFP/File
Says bill to amend Pakistan Penal Code sent to law ministry.— AFP/File

ISLAMABAD: Minister for Human Rights Dr Shireen Mazari on Monday said her ministry has drafted a bill that amends the Pakistan Penal Code (PPC) to declare ‘enforced disappearances’ a criminal offence.

The draft has been prepared in consultation with all stakeholders and sent to the law ministry.

“We are committed to ensuring rule of law and protection of fundamental rights of our citizens guaranteed in the Constitution. Moreover, the ministry has constituted a committee, comprising ministers for interior, law and justice and human rights, to look into the procedural delays and flaws in the existing system of pardon and mercy petitions.

“In this regard, we have prepared reforms and the summary has been forwarded to the cabinet for consideration of proposals to shorten the procedure of mercy petition,” Dr Mazari said.

She was speaking to students of the Sindh Madrasatul Islam University (SMIU).

Says bill to amend Pakistan Penal Code sent to law ministry

SMIU Vice Chancellor Dr Mohammad Ali Shaikh and faculty members were also present.

The minister claimed that she was making efforts for the protection of human rights particularly the vulnerable segments of society, including women and children.

“Besides implementation of existing laws, we are devising new legislation where required.

“Steps are also being taken to protect basic rights of every citizen in pursuance of the Constitution and international commitments.”

She expressed concerns over rampant human rights violations in India-held Kashmir and urged the international community to raise its voice to stop the rights violations.

“Why the world is silent on the massive abuse of humanitarian laws and violations of human rights in the India-held Kashmir by the occupation forces,” the minister said.

She said we need to highlight the human rights violations, systematic brutalities against women, crimes against humanity and abuse of humanitarian laws by Indian forces at the international level.

She said the Citizenship Act of 1951 grants citizenship status to everyone who is born in Pakistan, adding those born in Pakistan are Pakistani nationals. You need to either enforce or change the law and in state laws have to be enforced, she added.

Addressing the students, the minister said youth were a powerful tool to create awareness to stop rights abuses against women and children.

The human rights ministry has already launched an awareness campaign for women’s right to inheritance. Another drive to stop child abuse would soon be started. She said the society’s mindset needed to be changed to combat harassment of women. Harassment faced by women is a global issue and Pakistan does not make any discrimination as the actual discrimination comes from family and society.

She said a helpline - 1099 - had been established at the human rights ministry where a group of lawyers was providing free legal aid to the victims of human rights abuses.

“We have recommended to the education ministry to revise the curriculum and add human rights as a compulsory subject in the syllabus. We are providing separate laws for our non-Muslim communities and urge the western world to show respect for every religion.”

Published in Dawn, January 29th, 2019

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