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Top Story

November 6, 2018
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Senate body summons report on detention centres in provinces

Top Story

November 6, 2018

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ISLAMABAD: The Senate Functional Committee on Human Rights was informed Monday that the Ministry of Human Rights had submitted a proposal to the prime minister on legislation to make the enforced disappearance a punishable offence and forming a truth and reconciliation panel in this context.

Minister for Human Rights Dr Shireen Mazari said during the committee meeting here that the ministry was working rigorously on the issue and had submitted a proposal to the premier on tackling the matter through signing the international treaty, working on domestic legislation to make it a punishable offence and forming a truth and reconciliation committee. The panel sought details of detention centres in the provinces.

The committee sought compliance on its earlier directions regarding provision of reports of Justice Kamal Mansoor and Justice Noor Muhammad Meskanzai on enforced disappearances from the Ministry of Interior.

The additional secretary told the committee that the documents could not be traced in the ministry and the matter had been taken up with the commission on enforced disappearances.

The minister maintained that there could be no enforced disappearances in a democratic rule and added the Constitution also did not allow anyone to resort to such act. She regretted that there were families, whose dear ones had been missing for the last 10-12 years.

The panel, which met here under its Chairman Senator Mustafa Nawaz Khokhar, observed that the issue was extremely sensitive and a cause ofembarrassment for Pakistan, emphasising production of reports on the enforced disappearances and regretted that these had not been provided hitherto.

He called on the Ministry of Interior to take the policy regarding regulating mechanism of INGOs in the country, developed in 2015, to the Cabinet for approval of the government. The committee was of the view that since the definition of the federal government has changed as result of a ruling of the Supreme Court in 2016, decisions on such important policy matters which were earlier authorised by the concerned ministry, should now be taken to the cabinet for soliciting its opinion.

The meeting was attended among others by Senators Keshoo Bai, Hidayat Ullah, Sana Jamali, Dr Jehanzeb Jamaldini, and Minister for Human Rights Dr Shireen Mazari, senior officials of the Ministry of Human Rights, the Ministry of Interior, deputy commissioner Rawalpindi, Punjab police, PTV, PIERA and representatives of private schools association and aggrieved parents.

The forum discussed the matter of closure of INGOs in the country and mechanisms/procedure laid down for the registration of INGOs. The committee was told by Additional Secretary Interior Muhammad Sadiq that the impression that INGOs had been banned was incorrect and the issue under discussion was not new but was there for the last four years.

The committee was told that INGOs were allowed to work in the socio-economic sectors and some of the organisations had suspect activities going beyond their mandate which led to cancellation of their registration. It was told that at present there are 74 INGOs working in Pakistan undergoing unhindered operations and the government is not making work for any of the organisations difficult. The panel was informed that some such NGOs wanted to promote same sex marriages and sought to hold seminars in this connection.

Dr Mazari explained that certain INGOs were indulged in mapping in such areas, where they were not supposed to do so and added that further information could be shared in an in-camera meeting.

Some 27 NGOs were denied of registration out of which 9 did not take it up with the ministry further and 18 have gone in appeal. The Committee strongly proposed that the Ministry of Interior should have made the real reasons of cancellation of registration known so that the INGOs can adjust their operations and appeals accordingly. Including the ministry of Human Rights in the registration process and following the due process in finalisation of an appropriate policy were also proposed.

The committee was given a comprehensive briefing by Chairman Private Educational Institutions Regulatory Authority (PIERA) regarding steps taken against undue increase in fee by private schools. It was told that the matter was deliberated upon at length at National Commission of Human Rights as well as a Committee has been constituted under the chair of Federal Ombudsman by the Supreme Court to report on the matter. The Committee decided to defer the matter till the end of the month so that the report can then be discussed.

Regarding the closure of pensions of PTV employees, the Committee after hearing the MD PTV about the financial situation of the state enterprise, asked to present to the Committee a work plan for solving the issue.

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