Missing Persons Bill Has Gone 'Missing', Says Human Rights Minister Shireen Mazari

Missing Persons Bill Has Gone ‘Missing’, Says Human Rights Minister Shireen Mazari

Missing Persons Bill shireen mazari

Human Rights Minister Dr. Shireen Mazari on Monday disclosed that an enforced missing persons bill, which was recently passed by the National Assembly (NA), had gone “missing”.

“We had prepared the bill regarding missing persons and it was passed by the [relevant] standing committee and the National Assembly,” Shireen Mazari told media persons. “But it went missing after it was sent to the Senate.”

Image: Twitter

However, the minister added that there were reports that the bill was now at the Senate Secretariat.

Criminal Law (Amendment) Bill 2021, passed by the NA on November 8, 2021, aims to amend the Pakistan Penal Code (PPC) and Code of Criminal Procedure. The bill was introduced in the NA by the interior minister in June 2021.

Initially, there was no provision related to the filing of a false complaint or false information about subjecting a person to enforced disappearance. But subsequently, a provision was added to the bill to declare it a penal offense punishable by up to five years imprisonment with a fine of up to Rs500,000.

The proposed law provides for the insertion of a new section 52B in the PPC for defining an “enforced disappearance”.

The bill states:

Image: File

“The term enforced disappearance relates to illegal and without lawful authority arrest, detention, abduction or any other form of deprivation of liberty by an agent of the State or by person or group of persons acting with the authorization, support or acquiescence of the State, followed by a refusal to acknowledge the deprivation of liberty or by concealment of the fate or whereabouts of the disappeared person, which places such a person outside the protection of the law.”

Long-standing issue

Human rights groups, especially Amnesty International and the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan, have long called for Pakistan to enact a law criminalizing “enforced disappearance”.

Image: Twitter

After a wave of forced disappearances began several years ago in Balochistan and the erstwhile Fata under the pretext of fighting terrorists and insurgents, they have since spread to major urban centers, including Islamabad.

The Commission of Inquiry on Enforced Disappearances, established in March 2011, has managed to trace many of those missing. However, activists claim it has failed in the second part of its mandate, that is, to identify and prosecute those perpetrating these abductions.

Some rights activists estimate there still remain over 2,000 unresolved cases with the commission. It may be recalled that there was a recent disappearance of two students of Balochistan Universitylast November.

Story Courtesy: Dawn News

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