ISLAMABAD: A parliamentary body on Tuesday observed that loopholes in existing legislation with regard to child protection need to be identified to improve and strengthen the investigation process for speedy justice.

The Senate Special Committee on Child Protection met with Senator Rubina Khalid in the chair. The meeting was briefed by senior police officials from Mansehra and Nowshera about the updated status of child abuse incidents which took place in a Mansehra seminary and Nowshera.

The special committee was formed after a student of a religious seminary was allegedly abused by his teacher in Mansehra district in December last year.

It was informed that the accused in the Mansehra incident was in custody and his request for bail had been rejected by court. The case has been fixed for hearing by the end of September.

Police officials brief meeting about status of two child abuse cases in Mansehra and Nowshera

While the child is with the parents, the police department has arranged for the treatment and psychological counselling of the student.

Regarding the Nowshera incident, the police said the child was murdered by strangulation and his body was dumped into a water tank. The officials said two accused had been arrested in the case.

The committee was informed that the District Headquarters (DHQ) Hospital Nowshera had referred the body to Peshawar for an autopsy. The committee expressed displeasure over sending the case to Khyber Medical College in Peshawar when the DHQ hospital had the capacity to conduct the autopsy.

However, members of the committee called for strict punishment as per law and condemned those involved in the heinous crime.

They said the investigation processes need to be improved by imparting specialised training and capacity building of the police department as well as the medical health workers.

Senator Rubina Khalid sympathised with the parents of the children. She said such crimes can only be stopped by taking stern action against the culprits involved. She said parliament can legislate in this regard but loopholes have to be identified by the executing agencies.

The PPP senator said the parliament could legislate and enact more concrete laws as such incidents are a crime against humanity.

The committee also reviewed the steps taken by the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) to curb child pornography. Members were of the view that individuals and groups involved in such immoral activities have international links.

They were told that the FIA had the capability of accessing profiles of those individuals and groups involved in uploading and downloading pornographic material.

The committee called for enhancing the human resource of the cybercrime wing of FIA and capabilities through capacity building.

Published in Dawn, August 12th, 2020