ISLAMABAD: A Senate committee on Tuesday passed a bill seeking public hanging of child sexual abusers amid a walkout by Leader of the House in the Senate Dr Shahzad Waseem from its meeting.

The Criminal Laws Amendment Bill, 2020, was moved by Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) lawmaker Javed Abbasi and passed by the Senate Standing Committee on Interior. The bill wants high courts to conduct the trial of sexual offences against children and set a time frame of 30 days for completion of the trial and two months for adjudicating upon the appeals by the Supreme Court.

Chairman of the committee and former interior minister Rehman Malik presided over the meeting.

The bill, if converted into an act of parliament, will also close doors on compromise by the families of the children who become victims of sexual abuse.

The Fatal Accidents (Amendment) Bill, 2020 also approved

The bill seeks to amend Section 376 of the Pakistan Penal Code. Section 376(1) in its proposed form reads: “Whoever commits [child sexual abuse] be punished with death or imprisonment for life without parole till death and shall also be liable to fine.”

Under a proposed amendment to Section 377 of the PPC, whoever voluntarily has carnal intercourse against the order of nature with any boy under 18 years of age shall be punished with death or imprisonment for life without parole till death and shall also be liable to fine.

“Rape is a heinous crime; an act of violence that ruins the lives of victims. In Pakistan, rape cases are reported and registered; however, conviction rates of the accused are abysmally low. Recent events relating to sexual abuse and rape throughout the country, particularly against children, have necessitated that tough punishments should be meted out to perpetrators.

“Current penalties are less compared to the magnitude of the crime. The bill aims to increase the punishment of rape as one of the deterrent to this heinous crime,” reads the statement of objects and reasons.

The committee chairman, while speaking on the bill, said that strong legislation suggesting stringent punishment must be formulated to deal with the evergrowing cases of child abuse across the country.

After the meeting, Senator Abbasi told Dawn that Dr Shahzad Waseem had opposed the bill on the grounds that the government was in the process of bringing similar law through an ordinance.

After the passage of the bill, the committee chairman asserted that the bill had been passed according to rules.

He directed that the ordinance, which has already been notified by the government, be also clubbed with the bill during the stage of its consideration.

He said that stringent measures such as recommended in the bill were the need of the hour to be taken against those who commit such heinous crimes.

The committee passed another bill seeking punishment for those who are involved in committing sexual crimes against dead bodies.

Speaking on this bill, Mr Malik said that reports of cases of raping human corpse were heart-wrenching and such criminals should be dealt with sternly. He said there was a dire need to make a law which could deter such offenders.

He directed that all graveyards across the country should have boundary walls, monitoring system and CCTV cameras so that dignity and respect of human corpses could be ensured.

The Fatal Accidents (Amendment) Bill, 2020, introduced by Senator Mohammad Javed Abbasi, was also considered and passed.

The committee chairman said that these amendments sought to ensure speedy justice and enable the legal heirs of victims to receive compensation in case of death in fatal accidents in Islamabad Capital Territory.

Discussion on the Pakistan Arms (Amendment) Bill, 2021, introduced by Senator Mirza Mohammad Afridi and Senator Kauda Babar, the Islamabad Capital Territory Trust (Amendment) Bill, 2020, and the Anti-Terrorism (Amendment) Bill, 2020, introduced by Senator Mushtaq Ahmed, were deferred due to absence of the movers.

The committee expressed concern over the increasing cases of drug abuse within the country, especially in educational institutions.

Rehman Malik asserted that the committee must play its due role in curbing this menace. He advised Senator Abbasi on behalf of the committee to work on the issue and introduce some legislation on it.

Published in Dawn, February 3rd, 2021

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