NA panel to get briefing on Greece boat tragedy

Published July 2, 2023
A undated handout photo provided by the Hellenic Coast Guard shows migrants onboard a boat during a rescue operation, before their boat capsized on the open sea, off Greece, June 14, 2023. — Reuters
A undated handout photo provided by the Hellenic Coast Guard shows migrants onboard a boat during a rescue operation, before their boat capsized on the open sea, off Greece, June 14, 2023. — Reuters

ISLAMABAD: A parliamentary body is expected to get a briefing from the Ministry of Human Rights on the boat tragedy on Greek shores that resulted in the death of nearly 300 Pakistanis.

The committee will also discuss amendments to the Transgender Persons (Protection of Rights) bill which so far has failed to achieve any desired result.

The human rights secretary is expected to brief the National Assembly Standing Committee on Human Rights, on how at least 600 migrants — out of possibly 750 — on the fishing boat that set off from Libya towards European shores, may have perished when their vessel capsized in the Mediterranean last month.

The details were still sketchy but the passengers largely comprised Pakistanis, Afghans, Egyptians, Palestinians and Syrians migrating in the overloaded boat.

Up to 300 Pakistanis were feared to have drowned. It was a recurring tragedy — with no end in sight as economic, political and climate crises compelled increasingly large numbers of people to flee their homes.

The tragedy of such immense proportions was believed to have taken place in the presence of maritime authorities. It was also believed that Pakistani nationals were forced to stay below the deck by the crew, which maltreated them during the journey.

The committee will also take up the Transgender Persons (Protection and Safety) Bill, 2023, moved by MNAs Aliya Kamran and Qadir Khan Mandokhel.

MNA Aliya Kamran believed that there various lacunas and loopholes in the Act which need to be dealt with on priority basis. She argued that the phrase ‘Transgender Persons’ itself was not appropriate and needed to replaced with “Intersex Persons”.

The definition of transgender opened doors to conflicts and contradictions among various schools of thoughts of Islam, and required to be omitted.

The mover also argued that the concept of “self-perceived identity” was against the spirit of Islam. It did not allow any person to adopt an identity on the basis of his or her choice, but should solely be determined on the basis of physical appearance, genital features and congenital ambiguities or by a report of duly notified medical board.

In the statement of objectives, Aliya Kamran said in addition, same characteristics must be applied, in case of inheritance of any intersex person, to be based on their religion or personal law.

These amendments had been brought to bring this Act in conformity with Quran and Shariat, the mover said.

The meeting will also take the Zainab Alert Response and Recovery Bill, 2021.

Published in Dawn, July 2nd, 2023

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