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ISLAMABAD: In the midst of the mystery surrounding the fate of the “missing” bill on missing persons, Senate Secretariat has denied responsibility to this effect, contending that the bill was returned to the National Assembly after been passed by the upper house of the Parliament over a year ago.

“The preposterous of the bill vanishing or alleged interference by the chairman of the Senate are contradicted by the factual details,” the Senate Secretariat said in a statement on Monday with reference to the Criminal Law (Amendment) Bill 2021 that criminalises the practice of enforced disappearances.

“During the hearing of the case regarding missing persons in the Supreme Court of Pakistan on Tuesday, the 2nd January 2024, a reference was made to the subject bill which originated in the National Assembly but presumably vanished when it was transmitted to Senate.

Issue of missing persons ‘is everyone’s responsibility’: SC

Moreover, it was claimed that the efforts of the federal minister to get the said bill passed were thwarted by the chairman Senate,“ the statement said.

The Senate Secretariat provided the following timeline regarding the bill; the said bill was introduced by the (then) Interior Minister (Sheikh Rashid) on June 7, 2021.

The bill was passed by the NA on November 8, 2021 and it was transmitted to the Senate on November 10, 2021. The bill was tabled in the Senate on July 29, 2022. After tabling in the house, the bill was referred to the standing committee for consideration and report.

The bill was passed by the Senate on October 20, 2022 with some amendments. The bill was returned to NA on October 20, 2022.

“The factual position explained above enunciates that the subject bill was never missing, is not pending in the Senate Secretariat, rather has been returned to the National Assembly after passage in the Senate, as required by the Constitution and rules of the Senate,” the Senate Secretariat said.

The statement of objects and reasons of the Criminal Law (Amendment) Bill 2021 reads that the practice of enforced disappearances is a “particularly heinous crime not only because it removes human rights from the protection of the law but also due to the inherent cruelty inflicted upon families as a consequence of denial of information concerning the disappeared person.”

The statement adds, “The object of this bill is to criminalise the heinous crime of enforced disappearance with impunity that surrounds the practice of enforced disappearances and bring the perpetrators of these crimes to justice so as to provide closure to the families who are in immense pain owing to the fact that the fate and whereabouts of their loved ones are still unknown.”

Copyright Business Recorder, 2024

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