The Jamaat-e-Islami (JI) took on the issue of missing persons in the upper house of parliament on Saturday, terming forced disappearances a ‘form of state terrorism’ and proposing fine-tuning the Constitution to curtail the powers of ‘intelligence agencies’.
JI senators submitted an amendment bill in the Senate saying, “Intelligence agencies and law-enforcement agencies have been misusing the provisions related to the preventive detention in the Constitution, which are undoubtedly meant for exceptional circumstances.”
Submitted by Senator Professor Khursheed Ahmed, the bill was endorsed by other senators from his party, including Professor Muhammad Ibrahim Khan and Afia Zia.
The JI said that hundreds of Pakistanis are allegedly in the custody of state agencies, without any opportunity of being heard at a judicial forum, while their families remain clueless about their whereabouts.
“Recently, some very violent incidents have occurred, the tales of which goes to agencies,” they stated.
The JI suggested an amendment in article 9 (security of person) and article 10 (safeguards as to arrest and detention) of the Constitution in order to “curtail the powers of intelligence agencies”.
Explaining the aims and objectives of the bill, the JI stated that the bill proposes reinstating a maximum duration of one month for preventive detention without being heard, as it was in the original text of the Constitution of Pakistan, 1973, before the Third Constitutional Amendment of 1975 which increased the period to three months.
Similarly, the bill seeks that the detained persons be informed of the charges against them “not later than one week.” The Third Amendment had increased the limit to 15 days.
The bill has proposed the addition of a new clause in article 9 that reads: “(2) No person shall be given in foreign custody without the permission of the High Court of the province.”
“The proposal is aimed at abolishing the shameful practice that has brought a bad name to the country as it has irreparably damaged the dignity of Pakistani nation,” read statement of objects and reasons for the amendment.
The JI has proposed four amendments in Article 10, including the insertion of a new provision: “(10) The Authority making order of preventive detention and acting in contravention of the Constitution and provisions of any law for the time being in force and persons involved in implementing such order shall be tried in the Court of law for committing the offence of abduction or wrongful confinement and where ordering authority cannot be determined the administrative head of the concerned law enforcing agency shall be so tried.”
Published in The Express Tribune, February 5th, 2012.