The 2021 Missing Persons Bill Remains ‘Missing’

Missing Persons Bill Remains 'Missing'

On Wednesday 29 June 2022, the Senate panel on Human Rights was informed that the bill on enforced disappearances remained “missing”.

Former Human Rights Minister Shireen Mazari revealed in January 2022 that the bill had gone missing. She added that the bill went missing after it was sent to the Senate. 

The bill was passed by the lower house of parliament and by the relevant standing committee. 

The missing bill referred to the Criminal Law (Amendment) in 2021 and was passed by the National Assembly (NA) in November 2021.

Former Human Rights Minister’s Take on the Missing Bill

Shireen Mazari

In May 2022, Former Human Rights Minister Shireen Mazari stated that she was asked to appear at the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) headquarters over the bill. 

She added that after the bill was presented in the NA, it was referred to the interior committees. 

It is then that “invisible shadows” tried to change the clauses of the bill. 

Commenting on the issue she regretted that the bill had gone missing. Walid Iqbal (Committee Chairman Senator) from PTI also claimed that the bill disappeared when it reached the Senate Secretariat.

What is the Criminal Law Amendment Bill All About? 

The Criminal Law Amendment Bill 2021 was introduced in June 2021 and passed by the National Assembly on November 8, 2021. 

It aimed at making amendments to the Code of Criminal Procedure and the Pakistan Penal Code (PPC).

Initially, there were no provisions related to the filing of a false complaint/false information about subjecting a person to enforced disappearance. 

Through the amendment, a provision was added to declare false complaints a penal offense punishable by up to 5 years imprisonment. It also suggested a fine of up to Rs 500,000.

The bill aimed at the insertion of a new section 52B in the Pakistan Penal Code for defining an “enforced disappearance”.

Taking Up the Issue With the Secretariat

Irfan Siddiqui, PML-N Senator remarked that the bill cannot go missing on its own. 

The Human rights secretary while briefing the committee stated that the interior and parliamentary affairs ministries were requested to take up the issue with the Secretariat to proceed with the matter. 

Missing Persons Cases in Pakistan – A  Sad Reality 

Criminalizing “enforced disappearance” in Pakistan is a long-standing and awaited demand of human rights bodies. 

The international organization, Amnesty International and the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan have long demanded the enactment of law for this purpose. 

Enforced disappearances began several years ago in Balochistan and FATA. It has now extended to major urban centers, that include the capital, Islamabad. 

Some activists estimate that over 2,000 unresolved cases remain. What lies ahead for the Criminal Law (Amendment) 2021? Only time will tell!

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