ISLAMABAD: Under pressure after severe criticism over its controversial ruling in May this year which discarded DNA as primary evidence in rape cases, the Council of Islamic Ideology (CII) began deliberations on Wednesday to review its earlier recommendations.
The Council will give its final ruling on DNA admissibility on Thursday.
The earlier recommendations of the CII said DNA could be used in rape cases only when four witnesses testified to the crime but the accused denied charges. In other words, DNA could be used only to supplement primary evidence of four witnesses.
The CII recommendations drew flak from civil society and legal circles who termed the recommendations against the law.
In an apparent damage control exercise, the CII convened again today to deliberate on the issue.
“CII aims to provide the maximum facilitation to avail this opportunity of using DNA testing as primary evidence in rape cases. But the only hurdle in the way of giving justice to people is lack of speedy trials and absence of strict implementation of laws,” said CII senior member and head of the Pakistan Ulema Council Allama Tahir Ashrafi.
His statement was supported by Allama Amin Shaheedi who said DNA is a vital tool to identify rapists.
The Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP) had earlier blasted the Council for undermining the DNA evidence. In its latest statement, the HRCP stated that rape is on a sharp rise in the country and only in Lahore 113 cases of rape including 32 gang rape cases have been reported so far this year.
AFP adds: Members of the CII attending the conference on Wednesday also suggested amendments to Pakistan’s blasphemy laws, proposing the death penalty for people convicted of making false accusations.
“All the religious scholars agreed to put an end to the misuse of blasphemy laws,” Allama Tahir Ashrafi told news agency AFP. “Keeping in view the suggestions of human rights activists and civil society members, the Council of Ideology has decided to fix the same penalty for the person who falsely accuses of blasphemy as the accused,” he added.
Ashrafi said the proposed amendment would ensure that “nobody dares to use religion to settle personal scores”.
“The amendment will also silence critics of the blasphemy laws,” he added.