ISLAMABAD  -  The Federal Investigation Agency in its report submitted before the implementation committee on the top court’s judgment regarding minorities’ rights stated that at least 30 cases under The Prevention of Electronic Crime Act (PECA) 2016 were being under investigation and inquiry.

The report submitted to Additional Attorney General (AAG) Syed Nayyar Rizvi, chairman of the committee, stated that 15 FIRs had been lodged after PECA 2016 wherein allegations on the accused were; sharing blasphemous contents, creation of fake Facebook accounts, sharing family’s private pictures, sharing sectarian, racial and hate material through Facebook as well as on Youtube.

The top court had asked FIA for the list of cases registered under Section 11 (hate speech) of Prevention of Electronic Crime Act 2016.

The report further added that among these 15 cases, one case had been registered against a female namely Atia Yasmeen (not arrested) in Lahore on the complaint of Muhammad Usman Ghani, wherein it is alleged that the female uploaded a fake letter on Facebook under title Khatam-e-Nabuwat Pakistan containing threatening messages for Qadianis.

Besides these 15 cases, another 15 enquiries are under progress on the subject matter of sharing blasphemous contents on social media mostly on Facebook, the report stated. 

The FIA further submitted that PECA 2016 was enacted by the Parliament in order to prevent un-authorised access with respect to information system and critical infrastructure as well as mechanism for matters connected with or ancillary thereto.  The top court had also directed FIA to propose further amendments in relevant sections of PECA 2016 to make the offences cognizable, non-bailable and non-compoundable.

It pointed out that there were eight sections of PECA 2016 relating to serious offences of cybercrime but have been made non-cognizable, bailable and compoundable, which cause to hamper the impact of the law and creating hindrances in deterrence of the offenders.

The report also proposed sections to be made cognizable and non-cognizable for achieving better results to counter cybercrimes and cyber security of the country. 

It stated that Section 6 related to unauthorised access to critical infrastructure information system or data, Section 8 related to interference with critical infrastructure information system or data, Section 11 pertained to hate speech, Section 13 regarding electronic forgery, Section 14 regarding electronic fraud, Section 24 related to cyber stalking and Section 17 pertained unauthorized issuance of SIM card.

It further added that cryptocurrency was not recognized by State Bank of Pakistan (SBP) as legitimate business causing monetary loss to the exchequer.

“So it should be declared illegal with the inclusion of definition and distinct punishment of this emerging crime,” FIA proposed. “Hacking should be made a separate and distinct offence with proper definition and adequate punishment,” it added. FIA requested the top court that suggested amendments may be referred to Law and Justice Division for making draft law, which may be enforced through an ordinance before General Elections 2018.

It stated that awareness regarding these laws had also been made through print and electronic media.

According to the report, Punjab government on the recommendation of Muttahida Ulema Board declared publications containing hate material to be fortified and same were seized. The report added that Punjab government had declared 219 publications and CDs to be fortified from January 2015 till date which contained hate material.

“As many as 357 FIRs have been registered from January 2015 till June 26 under the Punjab Maintenance of Public Order, Ordinance 1969. Total of 299 challans were submitted and out of which 91 cases have been decided by the competent courts and in 70 cases accused were convicted whereas in 21 cases accused were acquitted,” it added. 

“Total of 562 FIRs have been registered from January 2015 till June 26 of 2018 under Sections 9 and 11-W of Anti-Terrorism Act 1997. 560 challans were submitted out of which 460 cases have been decided by the competent courts. In 150 cases, accused were convicted whereas in 310 cases accused were acquitted by the competent courts.” 

“Total of 3,376 FIRs have been registered from January 2015 till June 26 of 2018 under the Punjab Prohibition of Expressing Matter on Walls Act 1995. As many as 3,175 challans were submitted out of which 1754 cases have been decided by the competent courts. In 1,355 cases accused persons were convicted whereas in 399 cases accused persons were acquitted by the courts. “

“As many as 21,880 FIRs have been registered from January 2015 till June 26 of 2018 under Punjab Sound System (Regulations) Act 2015. The same number of challans were submitted out of which 10,477 cases have been decided by courts. In 8949 cases accused persons were convicted whereas in 1428 cases accused persons were acquitted by the competent courts.”

The government of Punjab has included fourteen themes including tolerance, peaceful co-existence, unity, patriotism, sharing, resilience against terrorism, eradication of sectarianism, etc, in the curriculum from Grade 2 to 12 of Punjab. 

Regarding the deployment at worship places of minorities in Punjab, the government has deployed 7,728 security personnel in 2,986 churches, 342 security personnel against 20 Gurdwaras and 74 security personnel deployed against 42 temples. 

According to the minutes of the meeting, the Additional Secretary of Punjab’s Department of Human Rights informed that an advisory council on minorities had already been established. Similarly governments of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Balochistan also established the Advisory Council, according to minutes of the meeting.  It added that the Punjab government had developed the curricula at schools and colleges level.

The meeting noted that there was not progress on point of constitution of a National Council for minorities.

Chairman Implementation Minority Rights Forum Samual Payara informed the meeting that federal government had constituted National Commission for Minorities and permanent chairman had been appointed.

Representatives from Punjab and Balochistan informed that their representative assembly had presented the bills in the Assemblies. No bill has so far been presented before the KP Assembly, the minutes of the meeting stated. 

The representative from Punjab Police informed that due to non-availability of funds no special police force was established.

The Balochistan and Sindh police departments have submitted report regarding the establishment of police force and security plan on the minorities worship places.

Samaul Payara, representing Christian Community, however, stated that no security plan by provinces had been implemented.

The representative of FIA informed that in accordance with the cybercrime seven cases were registered regarding the hate speeches in social media.

Since 2014 till 2018, in KP 14 cases of minority killings including Christians and Sikhs were registered while no one had been convicted.

Most of the accused remained untraced while all accused in assassination of KP’s former minister Sardar Sooran Singh had been acquitted.

A two-judge bench headed by Sheikh Azmat Saeed and comprising Ijazul Ahsan will take up the matters regarding rights of minorities where Deputy Attorney General Syed Nayab Hassan Gardezi will represent the state.