Bill seeks to ‘rein in’ intelligence agencies

Bill seeks to ‘rein in’ intelligence agencies

Bill seeks to bar handing over any citizen to foreign country without permission of high court. Proposes maximum duration for preventive detention cut to one month

ISLAMABAD: Senators from the Jamaat-e-Islami (JI) on Saturday submitted a bill in the Upper House of parliament, seeking a reduction in powers of intelligence agencies regarding preventive detention.JI senators Prof Khurshid Ahmad, Prof Muhammad Ibrahim Khan and Aafiya Zia signed the bill that was submitted to the Senate Secretariat.

The bill calls for a prohibition on handing over any citizen to a foreign country without prior permission of the high court concerned. Articles 9 and 10 of the constitution need to be amended for the purpose, the bill read.The statement of objects and reasons of the bill says a “forced disappearance by intelligence agencies or others has taken a form of state terrorism and hundreds of Pakistanis are allegedly kept in the custody of state agencies without any opportunity of being heard at any judicial forum; while their families know nothing about the whereabouts of their loved ones”.

It said intelligence and law enforcement agencies had been “misusing” provisions related to preventive detention in the constitution.“Recently many violent incidents have taken place, the tails of which go to intelligence agencies. It is necessary to cut short the powers of intelligence agencies in case of preventive detention to a reasonable limit and ensure the right of a fair trial for every detained person,” the bill says.It also proposed to reinstate the maximum duration of “one month” for preventive detention without being heard as “it was in the original text of the Constitution of Pakistan, 1973, before Third Constitutional Amendment was made in 1975 that had increased this period to three months”.

Similarly, the bill says a detained person should be informed about charges against him “as soon as possible, but not later than one week”. The bill binds the detaining authority to establish a contact between a detainee and his family within a week after his detention.Presently, the expression “the earliest opportunity”, due to its ambiguity, is widely misused by state agencies, the bill said.The bill proposes that the review board shall consist of sitting judges of superior judiciary in order to ensure complete transparency and impartiality.

“In case a person is detained without affording him the opportunity of a fair trial and without informing his relatives or any of his rights is infringed, the authority making order of preventive detention and persons carrying out such illegal order shall be deemed to have committed the offence of abduction or wrongful confinement and shall be tried in the court of law,” the bill statement reads. – Dailytimes