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Two bills referred to NA body on human rights

By Kalbe Ali 2016-09-28
ISLAMABAD: Minority members of the National Assembly on Tuesday opposed the move to send two bills presented in the lower house by MQM MNA Sanjay Pervani to the National Assembly Standing Committee on Religious Affairs.

The two bills are titled the ‘Protection of Minorities Act 2016’ and the ‘Pakistan Minorities Rights Commission Act 2016’.

“Whatever goes to the Standing Committee on Religious Affairs gets a strange treatment and I think our point of view will not be properly heard in the standing committee,” Mr Pervani told Dawn.

PTI MNA Lal Chand Malhi said that the matter was related to religious minorities but was an issue of human rights violations.

The National Assembly speaker then decided to send the two bills to the National Assembly Standing Committee on Human Rights.

The draft bill for protection against forced conversions bans the conversion of religion before the age of 18 and if a minor claims to have converted to another religion, the conversion will not be acknowledged and no action will be taken against them.

However, these conditions will not apply if the parents or guardians of the minor decide to change the family’s religion.

The draft bill also contains punishments for those who force others to convert their religion, which ranges from five years to life in prison and a fine payable to the victim. The bill also includes punishments for the facilitators of forced conversion, including facilitating weddings and facilitators may also be faced with charges of violating other laws including those against forced marriages, rape, kidnappings and others.

There are also provisions for holding trials of such cases in a secure location and providing victims with security.