NA passes amended bill on enforced disappearances

Law minister removes clause 514 after BNP-M, other parties object to it

Our Correspondent October 22, 2022
NA passes amended bill on enforced disappearances


The National Assembly on Friday passed the Criminal Laws Amendment Bill 2022 related to enforced disappearances after the change in clause 514 – that carried a punishment of five years for the complainant if they could not provide any evidence – was removed.

The bill was presented in the House by Law Minister Azam Nazeer Tarar.

The government’s coalition partners, including the JUI-F, BNP-M and MQM-P as well as Jamaat-e-Islami expressed their concerns over the imprisonment of five years for the complainant if they were unable to provide any proof of their enforced disappearance.

Speaking in the House, BNP-M chief Akhtar Mengal noted that enforced disappearances were a countrywide issue and people were scared to report these cases.

He added that imprisonment for five years was unfair for the complainant if the charges were not proven.

Mengal maintained that instead of recovering the missing persons, their bodies were handed over to their relatives.

He demanded the removal of the clause of recommending punishment against the complainant from the bill.

JI MNA Abdul Akbar Chitrali also pointed out that the bill seemed fine but he opposed the amendment to clause 514.

“It is the responsibility of the government of Pakistan to recover the missing persons,” he added.

MQM-P’s Usama Qadri observed that the issue of missing persons was a very important one.

He added that people had been missing for years.

“It is not right to prescribe punishments to people who are in grief,” he noted.

In addition, the JUI-F and PPP also opposed the proposed punishment of the complainant in the law related to enforced disappearances.

Later, the law minister removed the controversial clause from the bill and it was passed by the House.

In a statement, Federal Science and Technology Minister Agha Hassan Baloch termed the passage of the Criminal Laws Amendment Bill 2022 by the National Assembly as a major success in the efforts against enforced disappearances.

He added that according to the approved bill, the heinous act of enforced disappearance had been declared a crime.

“Those who commit such a crime will be brought to justice while the victims’ families will be given justice, ending the exploitation,” he maintained.

Baloch said the BNP-M chief had opposed clause 514 of the proposed bill stating that if the information of the plaintiff or the person providing the information was incorrect, they should be imprisoned for five years and fined Rs100,000.

The minister further stated that the BNP-M’s stance was that such a clause would discourage complainants and informants and make it very difficult for the heirs to prove their claim in such sensitive cases.

He added that the federal law minister accepted the objection of the BNP-M chief and removed the clause from the bill.

Baloch said the bill was presented in the House after removing the clause and passed unanimously.

(With input from APP)


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