Event Title: Senator Walid Iqbal, Chairman Senate Standing Committee on Human Rights Presiding over a Meeting of the Committee at Parliament House Islamabad
Event Date: 2023-04-03
The Senate Standing Committee on Human rights was held on Monday at Parliament House. Chaired by Senator Walid Iqbal, the meeting was attended by Senator Dr. Mehr Taj Roghani, Senator Seemi Ezdi, Senator Quratul Ain Marri, Senator Falak Naz, Senator Dr. Mohammad Humayun Mohmand, Senator Muhammad Tahir Bizenjo, and senior officers of the Ministry of Human Rights and its associated agencies along with ICT Police, Punjab Police and Home Department Punjab.
Matters taken up by the Committee revolved around the right to live and right to privacy of every citizen and included consideration of the gruesome incident of rape at Fatima Jinnah Park, Sector F9 Islamabad; Violation of fundamental rights especially guaranteed by Article 16 of the Constitution of the Islamic republic of Pakistan while dealing with political gatherings on 8th, 14th and 18th March in Lahore; Violation of Article 16, which guarantees human dignity, while treating political prisoners and PEMRA policy regarding telecast of audio leaks.
Reviewing the gruesome incident at F9 Park, which happens to be third in line of two similar incidents that took place in 2018 and 2021, the Committee took strong notice of the lapses and loopholes in the investigation process. As informed by the Survivors Legal Counsel, Eman Mazari Hazir, irregularities in the investigation process is the main impediment to justice. The survivor also briefed the Committee about the incident and subsequent developments. Chief Commissioner, ICT while briefing the Committee of the administrative issues that led to security lapses assured the Committee that all out efforts are being made to ensure the protection of city residents that visit the Park. The Committee was informed that Park Managers, to ensure security, have been appointed and issues related to lighting and manning of the Park are being addressed. He said that PKR 100,000 million have been granted to Park management for lighting and PKR 78 million have been doled into the system to ensure that functioning CCTV cameras are installed. The Committee stressed the need for reviewing park timings; disallowing visitors after sundown until all administrative issues have been addressed. Taking up the matter of revelation of Survivor identity on several local channels, Director General PEMRA was directed to investigate the matter meticulously and take stringent action against all involved.
Discussing violation of fundamental rights especially guaranteed by Article 16 of the Constitution of the Islamic republic of Pakistan while dealing with political gatherings on 8th, 14th and 18th March in Lahore by Punjab Police, Chairman Committee Senator Walid Iqbal probed various aspects of the mayhem and asked about those responsible for imposing Section 144. Special Secretary Home Department Punjab apprised the committee that two different events were scheduled for 8th March, 2023 which included Women's March and PSL and to beef security Section 144 was imposed after receiving a security threat alert from NACTA. Chairman Committee, Senator Walid Iqbal stated the Section 144 is a colonial law which is being misused, and proposed that amendment should be made to repeal the law.
Regarding matters related to inhuman treatment of political prisoners in Central Jail, Kot Lakhpat Lahore during the PTI Jail Bharo Tehreek, Senator Walid Iqbal stated that Pakistan’s political history is rife with examples such as these. Briefing the committee, he spoke regarding the treatment meted out to him during his transit from Kot Lakhpat to Layyah Jail and then his stay therein. The Committee expressed solidarity with Senator Walid Iqbal and condemned the inhumane treatment meted out to him by the Punjab Jail Department. IG prisons informed the Committee that 'B' class is reserved for politicians, however, entitlement for this is subject to a notification by the provincial government. Chairman Committee, Senator Walid Iqbal directed the Punjab Government to submit a copy of the letter of detention of prisoners including that of Senator Walid Iqbal and a court order of the Lahore High Court in the next meeting.
While being briefed on the policy regarding telecasting/ airing of audio video/ leaks on electronic media by DG PEMRA the Committee was informed that clear directions have been issued to all TV channels to refrain from broadcasting private content and conversations. He said that non-compliance would result in penalization up to PKR 1 million, and/or suspension of license. The Committee was informed that PEMRA is not authorized to review content prior to broadcasting.