Bill declaring enforced disappearances criminal offence sent to Law Ministry: Mazari


ISLAMABAD: Federal Minister for Human Rights Shireen Mazari has informed that the Ministry of Human Rights has drafted a bill through amendments in the Pakistan Penal Code (PPC) to declare enforced disappearances a criminal offence, adding that the bill has been sent to the Law Ministry.

She was speaking to students of the Sindh Madrasatul Islam University (SMIU) here on Monday. SMIU Vice-Chancellor (VC) Dr Muhammad Ali Shaikh and faculty members of the university were also present on the occasion.

“The government is committed to ensuring the rule of law and protection of fundamental rights of all citizens,” she added.

Regarding the patriarchal traditions and abuse against women and children, she said that youth was a powerful tool to create awareness to stop human rights abuses against women and children.

She said that society’s mindset needs to be changed to combat harassment of women while adding that the state does not make any discrimination, and the actual discrimination comes from family and society.

“The Human Rights Ministry has already started an awareness campaign for a woman’s right to inheritance and another drive to stop child abuse would soon be started, and the Corporal Punishment Bill, 2019 which prohibits any forms of physical, psychological and emotional violence as punishment has also been drafted,” she said while adding that the rights of domestic workers would also be protected under this bill.

She also spoke about the rights of transgenders saying that there is legislation in various areas including the law for the protection of rights of transgenders and added that a separate ward for transgenders has been established at PIMS so that they could receive medical care without facing any inconvenience. “All provincial health ministers have been asked to set up separate wards for transgender people,” she said while emphasising the youth’s role in creating awareness to respect the transgender community.

She said a helpline, 1099, has been established at the Human Rights Ministry and a group of lawyers were providing free legal aid to victims of human rights abuses. Additionally, the Education Ministry has been recommended to revise the curriculum and add human rights as a compulsory subject in the syllabus.

“Besides the implementation of existing laws, we are also devising new legislation for the promotion and protection of women’s rights. The ministry has also drafted the Zainab Alert, Response and Recovery Bill, 2018, which provides for making an alert, response and recovery mechanism for missing and kidnapped children,” she added.

She further said that the Ministry of Human Rights has also constituted a committee to look into procedural delays and flaws in the existing system of pardons and mercy petitions. “In this regard, we have prepared reforms and summary has been forwarded to the Cabinet for consideration of proposals to shorten the procedure of mercy petition,” she added.

Ministry of Human Rights has introduced the Bill for the Protection of Rights of Persons with disabilities in parliament.

In the end, Dr Mazari answered questions from the students and the Vice Chancellor of SMIU also presented the souvenir to the Minister.