ISLAMABAD: The Senate Standing Committee on Human Rights was annoyed at the Islamabad police chief for declining to share information about arrest of PTI workers on the grounds that the matter was sub judice.

The meeting held on Monday being briefed by the officials of Islamabad police on use of excessive force against former prime minister Imran Khan and his companions when he was to appear before a court of law at Federal Judicial Complex, Islamabad, on March 18.

Chairman of the committee Senator Walid Iqbal expressed concern over excessive use of Anti-Terrorism Act 1997 (ATA) by the ICT administration against the crowd that had gathered there to support their leader.

Senator Iqbal asked for data relating to individuals against whom FIRs had been registered under ATA to be shared with the Committee, particularly if persons less than 18 years of age had been implicated.

Says cannot provide information as matter is sub judice

However, IG Islamabad Police Akbar Nasir declined to share such data, stating that the matter is sub-judice and a JIT has already been formed to investigate cases.

The committee members expressed annoyance over the response by the Islamabad police chief on the grounds that the public data cannot be kept from the highest legal forum of the country – the Parliament and the parliamentary bodies.

As the IGP Islamabad remained unmoved Senator Walid Iqbal said that on the basis of data available to him that from February 28 until now, more than 600 people have been charged under ATA, out of which more than 50 might be under the age of 18 years.

Senator Iqbal pressed upon the committee to consider the fact that only six persons charged under the ATA that was hardly one percent of the total cases registered under ATA while 99pc of the cases registered under the act were either discharged or granted post and before arrest bail between Feb 28 and now.

While the committee was of the opinion that overbroad application of ATA burdens the Courts and prevents them from focusing on genuine cases for which ATA was enacted.

The Committee decided to involve the National Commission on the Rights of Child to examine how the ATA has been applied to under 18 and present a report on its human rights implications.

The Committee was also briefed on behalf of IG Police Punjab about the undertaking given by Punjab Police in Lahore High Court with regard to the house search of former prime minister Imran Khan on March 18.

The committee took strong exception to the callous and sadistic treatment meted out by the Punjab authorities to Senator Walid Iqbal and 23 other political prisoners while transporting themfrom Kot Lakhpat jail to Layyah jail on Feb 23.

The Committee termed the treatment inhuman, contrary to all civilised norms.

The Senate Committee took notice of an alleged attack by a local SHO on Mehek Shah, a transgender person in Mianwali.

The meeting was attended by Senators Prof Dr Mehr Taj Roghani, Dr Mohammad Humayun Mohmand, Seemee Ezdi, Quratul Ain Marri, Abida Mohammad Azeem, Irfanul Haq Siddiqui, Falak Naz, Syed Waqar Mehdi and Kamran Michael.

Published in Dawn, April 18th, 2023

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