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PR No. 175 Islamabad: January 28, 2019

Federal Minister for Human Rights Shireen Mazari said the Ministry of Human Rights has drafted a bill through amendments in Pakistan Penal Code to declare ‘enforced disappearances’ a criminal offence. She said the draft of the bill has been drafted in consultation with all stakeholders and was sent to the Law Ministry. Dr Mazari said we are committed to ensure the rule of law and protection of fundamental rights of our citizens guaranteed in our Constitution. Shireen Mazari said the Ministry of Human Rights has constituted a Committee comprising Ministers for Interior, Law & Justice and Human Rights to look into the procedural delays and flaws in the existing system of pardon and mercy petitions. In this regard, we have prepared reforms and summary has been forwarded to the Cabinet for consideration of proposals to shorten the procedure of mercy petition. She was addressing the audience comprising students of Sindh Madrasatul Islam University (SMIU) in Islamabad on Monday. Besides Dr Muhammad Ali Shaikh, Vice Chancellor, SMIU and faculty members of the university were also present on the occasion. She said we are putting all our endeavours for the protection of human rights particularly the vulnerable segments of the society including women and children. She said besides implementation of existing laws, we are devising new legislation where required adding that steps are being taken to protect the basic rights of every citizen in pursuance of our Constitution and international commitments. She showed her grave concerns on the worst human rights violations in Indian Occupied Kashmir and urged the international community to come forward and raise their voice to stop the human rights violation in IOK. “Why the world was silent on the massive abuse of humanitarian laws and violations of human rights in IOK by Indian occupational forces, she questioned? She said we need to highlight the worst human rights violations, systematic brutalities against women, crimes against humanity and abuse of humanitarian laws by Indian forces in Indian Occupied Kashmir at global level. The previous governments have failed to highlight the issue of worst Human rights abuses in IOK, she added. She said we need to focus on the abuse of women in conflict areas and to bring attention of world on human rights abuses in IOK and protection of women in conflict zone. Indian occupation forces as a weapon of war systematically raped women in IOK, we need to be more active on these issues and stop such abuses. She further said that the Citizenship Act of 1951 grants citizenship status to everyone who is born in Pakistan adding that that those born in Pakistan are Pakistani nationals. You need to either enforce or change the law and in state laws have to be enforced, she added. Addressing the students, she said youth become powerful tool to create awareness to stop human rights abuses against women and children. Human Rights Ministry has already started awareness campaign for the women’s right to inheritance adding that another drive to stop child abuse would soon be started by human rights ministry. She said the society’s mindset needs to be changed to combat harassment of women adding that harassment faced by women is a global issue, State of Pakistan does not make any discrimination and that the actual discrimination comes from family and society level. We have legislation in various areas including the law for protection of rights of transgender adding that a separate ward for transgender people have already been established at PIMS and we are giving them free medical treatment so that they would get treatment free of charge and without facing any inconvenience. Separate doctors will also be available for them. She said all provincial health ministers had been asked to set up separate wards for transgender people. Youth can play a pivotal role to create awareness to respect the transgender community and disables, she further added. She said a helpline 1099 has been established at Human Rights Ministry and group of lawyers are providing free legal aid to the victims of human rights abuses. She said we have recommended the education ministry to revise the curriculum and add human rights as a compulsory subject in the syllabus, which also includes the respect for differently abled people. She said unlike in EU, we are providing the separate laws for our non Muslim communities and urged the western world to show respect for every religion adding that the freedom of speech does not cover the blasphemy; she referred the verdict of European Court of Human Rights (ECHR). She said besides implementation of existing laws we are also devising new legislation and in this regard Pro-Women legal initiatives have been undertaken for the promotion and protection of women’s rights. In order to uniform our national child rights legislations with international standards, various key laws have been enacted. Ministry of Human has drafter the Zainab Alert, Response and Recovery Bill, 2018 which provides for making alert, response and recovery mechanism of missing and kidnapped children, she added. A Bill for protection of domestic workers is being prepared for protection of their human rights. The Ministry of Human Rights has also drafted Corporal Punishment Bill, 2019 which prohibits any forms of physical, psychological and emotional violence as punishment. Ministry of Human Rights has introduced the Bill for the Protection of Rights of Persons with disabilities in parliament. In the end, Dr Mazari answered the questions from the students and the Vice Chancellor of SMIU also presented the souvenir to the Minister. *****

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