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ISLAMABAD: Senate Monday passed two key government bills related to human rights, presented by Federal Minister for Human Rights Dr Shireen Mazari, as opposition’s Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) fully supported the treasury bills.

At the Senate sitting presided over by Chairman Sadiq Sanjrani, the House passed The Domestic Violence (Prevention and Protection) Bill 2021 and The Islamabad Capital Territory Senior Citizens Bill 2021 amidst protests by some senators who said they were left out in deliberations related to the bill.

Former Chairman Senate Raza Rabbani from PPP and Senate Standing Committee on Human Rights suggested certain amendments in the two bills that were not opposed by the government.

However, Mushtaq Ahmed from Jamaat-e-Islami (JI), Atta-ur-Rehman from Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam Fazl (JUI-F) and Rana Maqbool from Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) opposed The Domestic Violence (Prevention and Protection) Bill 2021 and The Islamabad Capital Territory Senior Citizens Bill 2021.

The Domestic Violence (Prevention and Protection) Bill 2021 was introduced in National Assembly in 2019 where it remained pending with the relevant standing committee for over a year before it was cleared by the committee and then the National Assembly. The bill also remained pending with the Senate committee for over three weeks before it was passed by the panel.

Taking the floor, the JI senator said ‘sensitive legislation’ should not be carried out in the middle of budget session. “The intention behind this bill is right but ground realities have not been considered in the bill,” Mushtaq said.

The PML-N senator said he was not consulted in deliberations over the bill and said that his bill related to human rights was passed by Senate but went ‘missing’ in National Assembly.

He staged a walkout in protest and was later brought back by treasury members on the instructions of chairman Senate.

JUI-F senator said The Domestic Violence (Prevention and Protection) Bill 2021 is in violation of Islamic junctions, Quran and Sunnat. He apparently resorted to personal attacks on human rights minister. Later, upon receiving massive backlash from both treasury and opposition senators, Atta announced to withdraw his words.

Chairman Senate, on behalf of the entire House, apologised to Dr Mazari over the conduct of the JUI-F senator, which she accepted.

Mazari thanked Senate for passing both the bills and lauded the role of PPP’s Sherry Rehman and Raza Rabbani in assisting the government over preparation of the bills.

Chairman Senate announced that he would write a letter to Speaker National Assembly Asad Qaiser over the issue of ‘missing’ bills—those private member bills that were passed by Senate but they ‘disappeared’ in National Assembly and were not taken up by the Lower House of the Parliament.

According to the Statement of Objects and Reasons of The Domestic Violence (Prevention and Protection) Bill 2021, “The Constitution of Pakistan, through the fundamental rights enshrined in it, mandates the state of Pakistan to protect its citizens from unlawful deprivation of life and liberty and holds inviolable the dignity of every person. It also declares all citizens to be equal before the law and prohibits any discrimination based on sex. These rights to life, dignity and nor-discrimination are violated through acts of domestic violence, which are systematic and widespread and occur regardless of age or socio-economic status. Besides, under UN HR Conventions ratified by the Government of Pakistan, particularly, the Convention on the Elimination of all forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW), states are obliged to take legislative measures for protection of women in domestic life. Through this Act, a legal and institutional framework has been proposed for the territorial jurisdiction of Islamabad Capital Territory to ensure that victims of domestic violence are provided legal protection and relief and the perpetrators of this offence are punished. Such legislation has been made at all provincial level except Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.”

Copyright Business Recorder, 2021

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