Refining legal system

Published December 21, 2015

Pick up the newspaper on any given day and peruse through the crime section. One will regrettably find it overflowing with news of murder, rape, theft, larceny, plunder and criminal negligence. How many of those victims will appeal for justice? Or an even more pinching question is: how many of them will receive justice? The answer is ‘not many’.

An effective criminal justice system should be able to deter crime, maintain law and order, punish the criminal and rehabilitate the offenders and provide compensation to the victims. Considering these functions, the legal system of Pakistan is ineffective as it fails on many levels.

The law seems to be only for the poor in Pakistan. The poor have always been vulnerable to exploitation by the rich and our justice system has done little to improve that.

The Shahzaib murder case is a brutal example of this. The constant misuse of the Islamic law of Diyat where the victims are paid off and the criminals roam free needs to be dealt with. In the UK the state itself fights for the rights of the victim.

This will also prevent harassment of the poor into making an out-of-court settlement. Rich and powerful offenders use influence to harass and scare the victims, compelling them to take back their cases.

The Kainat Somroo case pointed out the weaknesses in the system where the victim after being raped was further victimized and harassed by the perpetrators during her quest to seek justice. The government should take steps to provide safety to victims and their families.

Saima Riasat

Lahore

Published in Dawn, December 21st, 2015

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