The meeting of the Senate Functional Committee on Human Rights was held on Wednesday. Convened by Senator Mustafa Nawaz Khokar; the meeting was attended by Senator Syed Muzafar Hussain Shah, Senator Dr. Mehr Taj Roghani, Senator Hidayat Ullah, Senator Muhammad Ali Saif, Senator Sana Jamali, Senator Usman Khan Kakar, Senator Ayesha Raza Farooq and senior officers of the Ministry of Human Rights, Ministry of Interior (MOI), National Accountability Bureau (NAB), Home Department Punjab and departments attached to it. Mover of the Child Marriage Restraint (Amendment) Bill, 2018 Senator Sherry Rehman was a special invitee. Minister f Human Rights Ms. Shireen Mazari was also present in the meeting.
The issues taken up included the Child Marriage Restraint (Amendment) Bill, 2018, the Sahiwal incident and death of NAB prisoner Prof. Mian Javed Ahmed in judicial custody. The enforced disappearance of spokesperson Saraiki National Party was addressed in this meeting as well.
The meeting commenced with a discussion over the Child Marriage Restraint (Amendment) Bill, 2018 which was referred to the Functional Committee on Human Rights on 18 December, 2018. The Bill was approved unanimously. Members of the Committee were of the view that early child marriages destroy the very fabric of society as it has adverse affect on all facets of life of the individuals subjected to it.
It was debated that as per Islamic law, puberty is the only condition for marriage, however, a consensus was reached that as long as such liaisons are not allowed prior to it, Islamic Law was not breached. The Committee stressed that 18 must be the ideal cut-off age as per compliance to international laws.
The Ministry of Human Rights fully supported the bill and emphasized that despite female children being affected most; this bill supports the right of all children in Pakistan.
Deliberating over the briefing by Inspector General of Police and Home Secretary Punjab on the Sahiwal incident, the Committee showed its reservation towards the facts presented by Home Department, Punjab. The Committee unanimously agreed that the JIT culture must be abolished; as per natural law a man cannot be a judge to his own case. The Committee demanded to know under what provision of law was Zeeshan killed and not arrested. As per briefing by the police and Home Department, Punjab Zesehan was under observation due to his alliances with Adeel Hafeez a Daesh terrorist killed in an encounter on 15 January, 2019. The Committee asserted that if his whereabouts were know why was he not taken into custody earlier. The Committee asserted that another reason that the JIT must be rejected is that its TORs have not been clearly defined. It stressed that a Judicial Commission be formed.
While discussing the death of Prof. Mian Javed Ahmed in Judicial remand/custody, Convener Committee, Senator Mustafa Nawaz Khokar stressed the need to visit all detention centres and submit a report to the Committee. He said that the application of the National Commission of Human Rights to gain access to information regarding this case must be considered and a response must be sent within a week.
The case of missing persons was discussed in the Committee against an application received by Leader of the Saraiki National Party, Abdul Majeed Kanjo regarding the enforced disappearance of the party’s spokesperson from his house on 7 January, 2019. The Committee recommended that a report from Justice (R) Javed Iqbal, President Missing Persons Commission be procured and that Additional Chief Secretary, Home Department Punjab assist to resolve this case at the earliest.