Senate panel okays proposal to extend Zainab Alert Bill’s jurisdiction to entire country

Statesman Report

ISLAMABAD: The Senate Functional Committee on Human Rights on Monday approved an amendment in the Zainab Alert Bill, which called for expanding the jurisdiction of the proposed law to the entire country. The bill previously only applied to Islamabad.

PPP Senator Quratulain Marri had objected to the amendment, saying expanding the jurisdiction of the bill to the entire country would be a violation of the 18th Amendment.

The Zainab Alert Bill, which addresses sexual crimes against children and proposes sentences for such offences, was passed by the National Assembly in January but was blocked in the Senate after PML-N Senator Mushahidullah Khan insisting that the bill be sent to the Senate committee first.

Earlier, the bill only extended to the Islamabad Capital Territory because the National Assembly’s powers are limited as the bill involves the Pakistan Penal Code and the Criminal Code of Procedures. Therefore, the bill would have had to be taken up separately in each of the provincial assemblies in order to be implemented at the provincial level.

The approval comes a day after another horrific case of child abuse emerged in Hangu district. On Sunday, police recovered a body of an eight-year-old — who, police suspect, was raped before being killed — from bushes in Saro Khel village.

Zainab Alert Bill

The bill — named after nine-year-old Zainab Ansari, who was murdered after being raped in Kasur in 2018 — was tabled by Mazari in June last year after multiple cases of horrific crimes against children emerged, mainly from Kasur.