Government introduces bill in NA criminalizing enforced disappearances

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The government has proposed a bill in the National Assembly to criminalize enforced disappearances with a 10-year imprisonment for anyone found guilty.

The Interior Minister, Sheikh Rashid Ahmed, suggested amending the Pakistan Penal Code of 1860 and the Code of Criminal Procedure of 1898 with new sections about forced disappearance.

Earlier this week, The Minister for Human Rights, Shireen Mazari, introduced the bill – the Criminal Laws (Amendment) Act, 2021. The bill stated that a new section 52-B (enforced disappearance) should be included into PPC after section 52-A.

The bill also stipulated that there should be three requisite elements that define enforced disappearance. These elements include:

  1. Unlawful or illegal deprivation of liberty or a deprivation of liberty. 
  2. An act allegedly carried out by agents of the state or by a person or group of persons acting with the assistance, permission, or acquiescence of the state.
  3. Refusal to acknowledge the deprivation of liberty or secretion of the fate or whereabouts of the disappeared person.

enforced disappearance

The bill also attempted to add new sections 512 and 513 in the PPC Penal Code, after section 511. It stated that “whoever commits, orders, requests or causes the commission of attempts to commit, is an accomplice to or participation in the forcible or involuntary disappearances of a person or group of persons is said to cause forcible or involuntary disappearances of that person.” Moreover, It will fall within 512 (forcible or involuntary disappearances). 

Section 513 – punishment for forcible or involuntary disappearances – stated that “whoever causes forcible or involuntary disappearance of any person from Pakistan or within Pakistan shall be punished with imprisonment of either description for a term which may extend to ten years and shall also be liable to a fine.”

It added 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 the denial of information concerning the disappeared person.”

It further stated that enforced disappearance is unconstitutional and is against international commitments made by Pakistan through ratification of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.

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