To make provisions for raising alert, response and recovery of missing and abducted children
[ To Be Introduced in the National Assembly]
WHEREAS the Constitution recognises the inviolability of life, liberty and dignity of a person as the fundamental rights;
AND WHEREAS in recognition of the Constitution’s fundamental rights, it is necessary to make provisions for the protection of missing and abducted children under the age of 18, that includes Raising Alert, Responding and Recovering of Missing and Abducted Children.
AND WHEREAS it is obligatory on the Government of Pakistan to make provisions for ensuring the right to life and protection from abuse, abduction or exploitation of children under the age of 18, as envisaged under various national and international ‘Rights of the Child’ laws, conventions, covenants and instruments.
AND WHEREAS it is in belief that the first few hours of a missing or abducted child under the age of 18 are critical, and may result in harm, trafficking, rape or death, it becomes essential to legislate a nationwide institutional response including but not limited to the introduction of systems with respect to raising alerts, as well as the response and recovery of Missing and Abducted Children.
The Act is named in Memory of seven year old Zainab, resident of Kasur who was abducted, raped and murdered in January 2018.
It is hereby enacted as follows:
abducts a child.
d). “Abduction”: means, “ whoever by or compels, or by any deceitful means induces any child under 18 to go from any place to another.
under a distinctive name.
Missing and Abducted Children.
limited to) search, investigation, forensics, coordination and dispatch of
specially trained teams to rescue, recover and bring the missing or
abducted child to safety.
known to his/her parents or legal guardians regardless of circumstances
and causes of disappearance or time elapsed since the child went
ESTABLISHMENT OF ZAINAB ALERT, RESPONSE AND RECOVERY AGENCY (ZARRA) AND ITS MECHANISM
a). The Government shall establish the “Federal Agency for Zainab Alert, Response and Recovery of Missing and Abducted Children (ZARRA)”. This office shall be established under the Federal Ministry of Human Rights. ZARRA branches shall also be established in each province and at district level. All ZARRA Federal, Provincial and District offices will be open 24 hours, seven days a week.
4). The primary Functions and responsibilities of the Zainab Alert, Response and Recovery Agency for Missing and Abducted children shall be as follows:
a). To activate Zainab Alerts at the national, provincial or district level.
These alerts will include information on the physical characteristics of the missing or abducted child as well as any other data that would help in the child’s identification, so as to inform the public at large and all concerned agencies to whom these alerts will target.
b). To coordinate with Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA) for issue of Zainab Alert SMSs, MMSs, tickers on TV channels and announcements on radio stations and alerts on social media as well as postings on relevant websites.
c). ZARRA will define procedures for how, when, with what frequency and in what geographical territory the missing or abducted child alert will be raised and also the timings and mechanisms for upgrading the alert from District to Provincial to Federal levels.
d). To provide nation-wide telephonic hotline number such as 911, accessible to all Federal and Provincial ZARRA branches, where any person can report a missing or abducted child. The same number can also be used by any member of the public who has any information relating to the missing or abducted child.
e). To maintain a national data base, in conjunction with provincial governments of every reported incident of a missing or abducted child, the actions taken, the current status of the case and its final outcome. This database shall be monitored for accuracy and kept current at all times. The database will cover all territories of Pakistan and will be accessible to public on ZARRA website in English and Urdu. ZARRA will define procedures for who, how and when a missing or abducted child event will be brought on the ZARRA database. ). Federal ZARRA will have the accountability to maintain the database while each provincial branch will have access to it.
f). To maintain case files for each case, coordinate any information on missing children with local law enforcement, detect criminal patterns in a geographical area, issue monthly public reports on missing and abducted children on its website, introduce procedures and key performance indicators that will improve and measure the effectiveness of Zainab Alert, Response and Recovery system It will also issue Quarterly Missing and Abducted Children’s report to Provincial Assemblies and National Assembly.
g). Zainab Alert SMS/MMS Pro Bono Service by State and Private Media and Telecommunication Companies: All Media and Telecommunication companies – print, broadcast or digital – such as newspapers, radio stations, TV channels and internet sites operating in Pakistan shall provide free access to sending and receiving Zainab Alerts and are required to immediately cooperate with the ZARRA to setup an Alert System. Any non-cooperation by any organisation shall result in penalties and fines as determined by Rules made by ZARRA.
h). ZARRA Provincial branches will coordinate and provide full real-time information to the Federal ZARRA and perform alert, response and recovery functions for their respective provinces as defined by the Federal ZARRA.
j). ZARRA will provide governance and oversight to ensure all actions relating to Zainab Alert, Response and Recovery are initiated and all functions from registration of FIR to safe recovery of child are performed efficiently. .
5). The primary Functions and responsibilities of Federal, Provincial and District Police and law enforcement organisations in relation to Zainab Alert, Response and Recovery of Missing and Abducted children shall be as follows:
a). Who ever commits an offence of abduction or kidnapping on a child under the age of 18 years, in order that such a child may be murdered, or subjected to grievous hurt, or slavery, or rape, or to the lust of any person; or that such a abducted or kidnapped child may be so disposed of as to be put in danger of being murdered, or subjected to grievous hurt, or slavery, or rape, or to the lust of any person shall be punished with death or with rigorous imprisonment for life, along with Rs.20 million in fine.
b). Whoever wilfully causes death of any child under the age of 18 years, shall be punishable with death or imprisonment of life and with and Rs. 25 million in fine.
c). Whoever commits rape of any child under the age of 18 years shall be punished with death or imprisonment not less than 25 years and a fine of Rs.20 million.
d). Whoever causes grievous bodily harm or injury to any child shall be punished with imprisonment for minimum 15 years and a fine of Rs. 5 Million.
f). Whoever does anything that exposes a child to grievous bodily harm or injury shall be punished with imprisonment for 8 years with mandatory Rs. 3 million in fine.
a). All Child Protection Acts, laws and Statues in all provinces shall be amended to include the definition of “missing child” as “any child” under 18 who is reported to the police or others as missing because his / her whereabouts are not known to his/her parents or legal guardians regardless of circumstances and causes of disappearance or time elapsed since the child went missing.”
b). Child Protection Acts, laws and Statues in all provinces shall be amended to include “missing children” in the definition of children at risk or in need of protection.
c). Section 364A of PPC shall be amended to read: “whoever kidnaps or abducts a person under the age of 18, in order that …..”
d). Section 364A of PPC shall be amended to align the punishments with those stated at Section 6 above.
e). Section 369 of the Pakistan Penal Code shall be amended to read: “Kidnapping or abducting child under 18 years with intent to steal from its person…”
f). Section 369 of the Pakistan Penal Code shall be amended to align the punishments with those stated at Section 5 above.
g). Pakistan Penal Code shall be suitably amended to include the mandatory requirement of raising an FIR on every reported incident of a Missing or Abducted Child where his/her whereabouts are not known to his/her parents or legal guardians regardless of circumstances and causes of disappearance or time elapsed since the child went missing. Recording of FIR for a Missing or Abducted child is mandatory and must be done immediately when a case is reported.
STATEMENT OF OBJECTS AND REASONS
Zainab Alert, Response and Recovery Act 2018 is an Act to raise the required alerts and initiate the responses required for recovery of missing, abducted, abused or kidnapped children in Pakistan, the incidents of which are on an alarming rise nationwide. Pakistan’s current laws and procedures have failed abysmally to protect or to recover missing and abducted children and have also been proved woefully inadequate to provide satisfactory results in the monitoring, tracking or recovery of missing and abducted children. They are also inadequate to check the deteriorating situation of missing, abducted and raped children in the country. Therefore, a need has arisen to enact special laws to provide a speedy system of alerts, responses, recoveries, investigations and trials of the accused to prevent and curb criminals and criminal activities against the children of Pakistan and to also ensure that these laws are properly implemented to effect meaningful change on the ground.
Shireen M. Mazari
Member National Assembly