proposed legislation on the issue
Islamabad March 4, 2016: The worsening situation of mysteriously disappeared persons under discussion in the senate today on a calling attention notice moved by senator Farhatullah Babar to discuss the European Commission’s report on the human rights situation in the country.
The situation of missing persons will get worse if we continue to deny the need for introducing a measure of transparency, oversight and accountability in the working of the nation’s security agencies he said.
The Parliament is not unmindful of the issue, indeed it has done its job and there is a 2013 report of the Human Rights Committee along with draft legislation that was unanimously adopted by the Senate he said.
To begin with the government should at least come out with its observations and objections if any to the recommendations and draft legislation for a dialogue and discussion with Parliament to address the issue of missing persons.
He said that the Senate Committee of the Whole on speedy and inexpensive justice also took notice of the enforced disappearances and has called upon the government to submit its report to the senate bi-partisan oversight committee within a month. If the Committee is satisfied with the Report of the government then it shall share the progress with the House but if it was not satisfied then the Committee shall recommend that the Bill may be moved as a Private Member’s Bill by all the parliamentary party leaders.
More than a month has already passed since the adoption of the report of the committee of the whole in December 2015. he said and asked the minister in charge to apprise the House of the government position on the issue.
He said that yet another step forward in addressing the issue is to review the progress made in the implementation of the Actions in Aid of Civil Power Regulation in tribal areas. This 2011 Regulation was given retrospective effect from Feb 2008 to enable the security agencies bring into the open for trial in courts those had already been in their custody for the past four years but not produced before any court of law. He asked the minister to inform the House about the number of persons who were in custody of security agencies since 2008 and surfaced in 2011 together with their present status whether under trial, convicted or in detention.
“This information should not be secret and no one should feel scared as the Regulation provides for indemnity but it will help throw light on the issue of missing persons and illumine the path of addressing it earnestly”, he said and urged the Minister to come out clean on it.
Senator Farhatullah Babar said that the European Commission’s report had also highlighted the issue of torture in custody. Pakistan had signed and ratified the Convention Against Torture and it was obligatory to enact legislation to prevent torture and degrading punishments.
He said that in March last year the Senate has unanimously passed Anti torture Bill which has since been sent to the Joint session of Parliament as the National Assembly could not pass it in the mandatory period of 90 days.
He asked the government to immediately convene joint session of the parliament to consider the Anti torture Bill, the anti Honor killing Bill and other bill referred to it under the Constitution.