Nadra launches registry to help citizens ‘identify sex offenders’

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By Webdesk

Representative image shows a silhouette of a child.  — AFP/File
Representative image shows a silhouette of a child. — AFP/File

KARACHI: The National Database and Registration Authority (Nadra) has deployed a new platform – National Sex Offenders Registry (NSOR) – to help citizens and institutions identify and track sex offenders.

The NSOR will provide information via SMS on persons convicted of sex crimes against children and women, an official statement issued on Saturday said.

“It is a dynamic database of sexual offenders. The links are established with various law enforcement agencies and provincial governments so that updates are made in real time,” the statement said.

It said the move is intended to make the service more dynamic and more responsive to the needs of the institutions and people in general in preventing sexual violence and abuse.

An SMS-based verification service warns citizens, employers and departments to be wary of such culprits.

“This initiative has always been close to my heart, it is a crucial step towards protecting women and children from sexual violence and abuse,” the statement quoted Nadra chairman Tariq Malik as saying.

He announced that citizens can now use this service to verify the CNIC number of individuals hired for household chores, at mosques, colleges, universities or other jobs to ensure they are not sexual convicts, a blank have a criminal record and can be trusted. around women and children.

“Preventing even a single case of sexual abuse against a child or woman is not only an act of protection, but an investment in the future of our country,” he added.

Speak against Geo.tvDigital rights advocate and lawyer Nighat Dad praised Nadra’s initiative and said the NSOR will deter sex crimes, but also expressed concern over the use of the newly launched platform.

“Nadra’s initiative is commendable. However, it also raises the question of whether the system was launched under any regulation, law or policy,” she said.

“It will be a deterrent, but I also fear that if there are no safeguards and protections around it, it could also be abused,” she added.

The rights advocate said it’s important to have laws related to the NSOR so that innocent people “don’t fall victim to systemic biases or problems around the justice system.”

She also urged Nadra to look into false positives as well, saying the law can be abused against people who had already been convicted due to the weaknesses in the justice system and wanted to live with dignity.

Nighat also urged parliament to enact a law providing a full framework for NSOR so that the system cannot be abused against anyone.

“It raises a huge demand from our legislature,” she noted.

Echoing similar views, digital rights researcher and journalist Haroon Baloch spoke that if Nadra had set up a registry without the permission of a statute, it would put registrants’ personal information at risk.

“NADRA will not only collect information from registrants, but their information will be accessible to anyone with just a single text message,” he added.

Baloch continued that the criminals also have rights of dignity and their personal information cannot be disclosed to anyone without meeting the conditions of necessity and proportionality.

He said there is a high probability of misuse of registrants’ identities as Pakistan does not have comprehensive data protection legislation.

In the event of misuse of registrants’ personally identifiable information, the courts will not be able to provide victims with remedies, he added.

It is pertinent to mention that the purpose of this service is to provide ordinary citizens and institutions with quick and easy access to information about sex offenders, especially those who may pose a potential threat to children and women in our close-knit communities, according to Nadra.

“The information can also be used to locate offenders to prevent future crimes and ensure they are held accountable for their actions,” the institute said.

Upon provision of Computerized National Identity Card (CNIC) by the person being hired, the citizens of Pakistan can verify whether they are convicted sex offenders or not by sending a 13-digit CNIC number to 7000 (SMS short code).

After verification, they get an answer in Urdu: “Watch out! ABC son of XYZ is a convict. Do not let him be around children and women.

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