ISLAMABAD            -       The National Assembly on Friday unanimously passed ‘Zainab Alert, Response and Recovery Agency Bill, 2019’, with the aim to provide a speedy system of alerts, recoveries, investigations, trails and rehabilitation to prevent criminal activities against the children in Islamabad Capital Territory (ICT).

The MNAs from both sides of aisle, in a rare show of unity, approved the bill around two years after the body of nine-year-old Zainab Ansari, a rape-murder victim, was found in Kasur in 2018.

Zainab Ansari went missing and her body was found dead, as she was brutally rape and murder. It triggered angry countrywide protests. Zainab’s murderer was hanged in Kot -Lakhpat jail the same year.

The statement of objects and reasons says, “The bill provides a speedy system of alerts, responses, recoveries investigations, trails and rehabilitation to prevent and curb criminal activities against the children in ICT.”

It ensures harmonisation and cohesion in the working of the new agencies and institutions established for the protection of children and already existing mechanism within this field.

The clause related to ‘kidnapping children 18 with intent to take moveable property’, says ‘Whoever kidnaps or abducts any child under the age of 18 years with the intention of taking dishonestly and any moveable property from the person of such child shall be punished with imprisonment of 4 years and with the fine of Rs1 million.”

The clause related to ‘kidnapping a person under the age of 18 years’, says ‘ for the purpose of this act, whoever kidnaps any persons under the age of 18 years in order that such person may be murdered or subjected to grievous hurt , or slavery shall be punished with imprisonment for life or with rigorous imprisonment to 14 years,”.

According to the bill, “A helpline (1099) will also be made to specifically report such cases.” The bill, moved by Minister for Human Rights Shireen Mazari stated that action would be taken against any officer who failed to respond in a child abuse case within two hours.

The minister lauded all the members of standing committee on the passage of the pending bill. “This bill was introduced in the previous National Assembly and after the process now passed unanimously,” she said. Minister Asad Umar expressed the hope that the bill would also be passed in the Senate in same spirit, with the aim to protect the country’s minor children.

About the call-attention notice on a related subject, minister said national action plan has been prepared against child abuse and molestation which will be launched before the end of this month. Mazari said a registry of convicted sexual offenders was also being prepared with the cooperation of Federal Investigation Agency.

In an eventful day in the National Assembly, the house passed ‘The ICT Rights of Persons with Disability Bill’ which aims to provide persons with disabilities (PWDs) to all the forms of social life particularly in health, education and employment.

Other bills passed by the house, including ‘Letters of Administration and Succession Certificates Bill’, ‘The Legal Aid and Justice Authority Bill’, ‘Enforcement of Women’s Property Rights Bill’, ‘The Superior Courts (Court Dress and Mode of Address) Order (Repeal) Bill’.