PA panel proposes stricter punishment for crimes against children

Updated 07 Jul 2020

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The committee suggested that the Child Protection and Welfare Commission (CPWC) maintain a register of sexual offenders, which should include the names of those convicted for offences against children. — Reuters/File
The committee suggested that the Child Protection and Welfare Commission (CPWC) maintain a register of sexual offenders, which should include the names of those convicted for offences against children. — Reuters/File

PESHAWAR: A special committee of the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Assembly on child abuse on Monday submitted its report to the assembly proposing to increase sentences for several offences against children, including pornography, sexual abuse and trafficking, and to reactivate the non-functional child protection units in different districts.

Law minister Sultan Mohammad Khan tabled the report in the assembly’s session chaired by Speaker Mushtaq Ahmad Ghani.

The committee was constituted early this year after the killing and sexual abuse of a minor girl in Nowshera district, which had caused a public outcry.

In its report, the committee has proposed several amendments to the KP Child Protection and Welfare Act, 2010, suggesting that the proceedings of execution of sentence of death, awarded to an accused for offence of rape and unnatural lust, be recorded by audio-visual means and such recording be accessible to public as prescribed.

Produces report suggesting to make child protection units functional

In the proposed KP Child Protection and Welfare (Amendment) Act, 2020, the committee suggested that the Child Protection and Welfare Commission (CPWC) maintain a register of sexual offenders, which should include the names of those convicted for offences against children.

It said such convicts should not be employed in any organisation dealing with children and he should also be prohibited to travel in any public transport used by children.

The proposed amendments also said the offences against children, including organ sale, pornography, trafficking, sexual abuse and exposure to seduction, would be tried by model courts set up by the Peshawar High Court instead of the special child protection courts.

The provision will not be applicable if the accused is a minor.

The panel suggested that the fine for commission of an offence of dealing with organs of a child be enhanced from Rs1 million to the minimum Rs2 million and the maximum Rs5 million along with sentence of death or life imprisonment.

The current sentence for child sexual abuse is imprisonment from seven up to 14 years with Rs1 million fine. The committee proposes punishment up to 14 years with Rs5 million fine.

Similarly, it is proposed that the punishment for child pornography be increased from three-seven years imprisonment and Rs200,000-Rs500,000 fine up to 14 years detention and Rs5 million fine.

The committee also recommended to increase sentence for the offence of exposure to seduction from the existing seven years imprisonment to up to 10 years imprisonment and fine from Rs1 million to Rs2 million.

The report also made recommendations for the curtailment of child abuse incidents and said the government should lift ban on recruitment for child protection units at district level to make the units functional.

It added that CPUs should be set up in all districts.

The committee proposes the establishment of child protection police stations at divisional level having SHOs well-versed in laws related to children.

It added that until the setting up of model police stations, the staff of the existing police stations should be given proper training so that they should incorporate proper provisions of laws in cases pertaining to child sexual abuse.

Speaker Mushtaq Ahmad Ghani said members of the treasury and opposition benches had put a lot of efforts for the preparation of the report and they would ensure its implementation.

He said the social welfare secretary should submit monthly report about the implementation of child protection laws, while all members should launch special awareness campaigns in their respective constituencies.

Later, the session was adjourned until today (Tuesday).

Published in Dawn, July 7th, 2020