National Assembly passes Zainab Alert Bill
The National Assembly on Wednesday passed the Zainab Alert, Recovery and Response Bill, 2020 aimed at raising alert, response and recovery of missing and abducted children.
Minister for Human Right Dr Shireen Mazari moved a motion for consideration of the bill as passed by the Senate of Pakistan with amendments. The bill will become an “Act of Parliament”, when President put his signature.
The House passed the motion and considered the bill as reported by the Senate. All cases involving the kidnapping, rape and murder of minor children will be required to complete investigations within three months.
The bill will raise the required alerts and initiate the responses required for recovery of missing, abducted, abused or kidnapped children in entire country.
It will help to provide speedy system for alerts, responses, recoveries, investigations, trails and rehabilitation to prevent and curb criminal activities against the children. It will also ensure harmonization and cohesion in the workings of the new agencies and institutions established for the protection of children and already exacting mechanisms within this field.
Dr Shireen Mazari thanked all the political parties for the supporting the bill. “I am pleased that all the political parties have support the bill, I am also thankful to the Human Right Committees of Senate and National Assembly for their support.”
Key points of the bill
Special courts would be established to decide cases relating to missing children in three months.
Station house officers (SHOs) would be bound to register first information reports (FIRs) immediately after receiving the complaint and could face imprisonment of up to two years or a fine of up to one lakh if they fail to do their job on time.
The bill is named after nine-year-old Zainab Ansari who was murdered after rape in Kasur in 2018 that shocked the entire country.
The bill also suggests of establishing an authority to deal with cases of kidnapping and rape of children.
A Zainab Alert, Response and Recovery Agency (ZARRA) will be set up and prime minister will appoint the agency’s DG that will be tasked to maintain a database of missing and abducted children, and work closely with the helpline, 1099.
ZARRA will also issue monthly public reports and updates on its website about missing children. It will also make a mobile application. The maximum sentence to a culprit will be life imprisonment and the minimum sentence will be 10 years.