Senate body presents draft law on missing persons
By: Ijaz Kakakhel
ISLAMABAD: The Senate Standing Committee on Human Rights has presented draft legislation on missing persons and decided to circulate it among stakeholders after which a concerted law will be presented in the Upper House of parliament.
The committee decided to send the draft legislation on missing persons to ministries of defence, interior and human rights to get their views. After the views of the stakeholders have been received, the committee would hold a public hearing for further suggestions. In its meeting on June 27, 2012, on the subject of enforced disappearances, the Senate Standing Committee on Human Rights decided to set up a sub-committee to look into the issue and make specific recommendations.
Senator Farhatullah Babar was convener of the committee whose two other members were Senator Nasreen Jalil and Senator Suriya Arniruddin. After deliberations, the sub-committee made preliminary recommendations. In accordance with the recommendations of the Commission on Enforced Disappearances and the resolution adopted unanimously by the National Assembly on March 14, 2011, it was suggested that suitable legislation be enacted to provide specific powers of arrest and detention to the army and law enforcement agencies under special circumstances in order to curb anti-state activities.
The committee endorsed the observation of the commission. It also recommended that the report of the Commission on Enforced Disappearances be published and its recommendations be implemented. Pakistan may sign and ratify the International Convention on Prevention of Enforced Disappearances of citizens. It will help establish the right to truth regarding the circumstances of the enforced disappearances, the progress and results of the investigation and the fate of the disappeared person. Compensation is paid to the victims of enforced disappearances, whenever located and recovered.
According to the recommendations, it has also been proposed that the Human Rights Committee may meet the Commission on Enforced Disappearances to further the efforts for the search for missing persons.
The sub-committee observed that the judicial system is not equipped either in law or prosecution capacity to meet the challenge of terrorism. It was recommended that amendments to the ATC Bill be expedited in consultation with stakeholders for speedy trial of militants. Senator Mushahid Hussain Sayed was of the view that the committee should go step by step, and initially the draft on missing persons should be sent to ministries of defence, interior and human rights.
After that, a public hearing on the issue will be held, and finally it will be presented in the Senate for approval. Sayed said people are picked up and no one knows about their whereabouts, and termed it injustice with general public. He stressed there should be proper law on missing people in the country.
Chairman of the committee, Afrasiab Khattak, was of the view that recommendations of the Supreme Court and civil society have already been presented. However, the proposed resolution may be forwarded to the stakeholders for further deliberations because it is an important issue and required proper attention. To another agenda item, the committee directed DIG Ahmad Mukarram to rationalise the police checkposts established in federal capital of Islamabad.