ISLAMABAD: The Senate passed on Thursday a resolution condemning enforced disappearances and demanding of the government to enact legislation to criminalise the practice.
Former Senate chairman Raza Rabbani tabled the resolution in connection with the International Day of the Victims of Enforced Disappearances that was observed worldwide on August 30.
The resolution “expressed solidarity with the families of missing persons and … victims of enforced disappearances”.
Assuring the families of the missing persons, it stated that the Senate would become their “voice in ensuring justice, recovery, and punishment to the perpetrators”.
Urging the federal government to join the international campaign for ending enforced disappearances, it called upon the government to ratify the international convention on the protection of all persons against enforced disappearances.
On Tuesday, Senate’s Functional Committee on Human Rights, under PPP’s Senator Mustafa Nawaz Khokhar, approved criminalising enforced disappearances after Chairman of the Commission of Inquiry on Enforced Disappea-rances Justice (retd) Javed Iqbal briefed the panel about the saga of missing persons.
During the briefing, Justice (retd) Iqbal, who is also Chairman National Accountability Bureau (NAB), criticised the Parliament and provincial legislatures to criminalise enforced disappearances.
Iqbal also informed the Senate’s panel that 1,828 cases of missing persons were pending with the Commission of Inquiry on Enforced Disappearances.
The commission, he said, had received 5,290 cases involving missing persons between March 2011 and July 2018.
According to him, of the total, 3,462 cases had been disposed. “Relatives have a right, as victims themselves, to know the truth about the circumstances of any enforced disappearance, the whereabouts of their loved ones, the progress and results of the investigation and ultimately the fates of the disappeared person,” said the United Nations Committee On Enforced Disappearances and Working Group on Enforced or Involuntary Disappearances in a joint statement to mark the day.
“Measures to achieve truth and justice for enforced disappearances should be parallel and go hand in hand. There is no truth without justice and no justice without truth.”
“Enforced disappearance remains a global problem that afflicts people in various countries and with different ethnicities, religions and political backgrounds,” said Unrepresented Nations & People’s Organisation (UNPO) in a statement.
“UNPO stands with the victims of enforced disappearances and their family members all over the world, actively making efforts to raise awareness of this multifaceted violation. In addition to closely following and raising awareness for individual cases of enforced disappearances, UNPO urges governments and institutions to ensure justice for the victims, hold the perpetrators of these heinous crimes accountable and prevent more people from falling victims to this gross human rights violation.”
Meanwhile, Senate Acting Chairman Saleem Mandviwalla deferred debate on alleged rigging in the general elections till Friday (today) due to the absence of senior government functionaries.
He directed that Finance Minister Asad Umar brief the Senate on Friday on the scenario involving placement of Pakistan on the Financial Action Task Force’s (FATF) ‘grey list’.
PPP Senator Sherry Rehman criticised the government’s decision to abolish the Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority (Pemra) and Press Council of Pakistan and replace those bodies with the Pakistan Media Regulatory Authority, saying that parliament was not consulted on the matter.
“Parliament should have been kept in the loop on such an important decision,” she said.
Leader of the House in Senate Shibli Faraz said that the government was empowered to take decisions on administrative and executive matters. “No decision shall be taken in violation of the Constitution.”