Sub-committee formed to look blasphemy law, establishment of an HR division

human rights for all

The Senate Standing Committee on Human Rights on Thursday formed a sub-committee to look into the blasphemy law and into establishing a separate human rights division to bring human rights violations into the limelight.

Chairing the committee meeting, Senator Afrasiab Khattak announced that the sub-committee would be headed by Senator Mushahid Hussain Syed while former Human Rights secretary Shaigan Malik and a representative of the Ministry of Defence would be its members.

The committee praised the efforts of the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP) for highlighting human rights violations in the country.

Commenting on the HRCPs annual report ‘State of Human Rights in the Country 2012’, the former human rights Secretary said the source of civil society reports and government reports was the same as all of them were based on secondary data of newspaper clippings but more weightage was being given to non-government organisations’ reports as compared to government documents.

He said the government had issued a report on Committee on Elimination of All forms of Discrimination Against Women but the international community had given more importance to shadow reports issued by the civil society.

The law secretary apprised the meeting that ministry was already dealing with a number of matters and if a separate division of human rights was established, it would be helpful in focusing on both human rights and law and justice affairs.

Discussing the second agenda of enforced disappearance of citizens, the committee members opined that there should be rule of law in the country and that there was an urgent need of legislation on the issue.

The defence secretary informed the committee that a detailed report on legislation regarding the security agencies working under parliament had been prepared which had been sent to the Prime Minister’s Secretariat for endorsing the approval and would be presented when the PM was back from China.

Senator Farhatullah Babar said the interior minister had made a policy statement on floor of the House of June 17 and now the matter was with parliament. “The scrutiny of intelligence agencies is in the interest of all organisations.”

Senator Mushahid Hussain Syed in his remarks said security agencies should investigate people but there should be some mechanism.

Senator Mushahid said he was personally aware of a number of cases in which people were arrested by security agencies and a majority of them were involved in illicit activities but their disappearance gave an impression that they were all innocent.

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