ISLAMABAD: The National Commission for Human Rights (NCHR) on Tuesday requested the sessions court of Islamabad to become a party in the case.

NCHR Chairperson Rabiya Javeri Agha, member minorities Manzoor Masih and their legal team applied to the court to be part of the proceedings of the case. The commission met the prosecution team and discussed the case. The hearing was adjourned due to unavailability of the witnesses/victims.

Last year in July, a video surfaced on social media in which the main accused in the case, Usman Mirza, could be seen violently thrashing and harassing the young couple.

Within a few hours of the video going viral, the Islamabad police took Mirza into custody and registered a first information report (FIR).

Later, seven people, including Mirza, were charged in the harassment case. The Islamabad High Court (IHC) rejected the bail appeals of the three accused and directed the authorities to complete Mirza’s trial in two months.

On January 11, the case took a dramatic turn when both the witnesses retracted their previous statements.

“Despite the prime minister taking cognizance of the case, the victims have still retracted their statements. We have seen such retractions happen time and again. In Pakistan, rape case convictions stand at only three per cent. According to research by Legal Aid Authority, nearly 60pc of rape victims change their statements after registration of FIR,” said the NCHR chairperson while talking to the media.

Explaining the reasons for becoming part of the proceedings, she said: “The commission wants to bring forward and highlight systemic issues that are faced by vulnerable groups. The NCHR is mandated to look into such gross and flagrant violations of human rights. We are the voice of the vulnerable and stand with them. NCHR is committed to follow up on this case and ensure that the state continues to protect and safeguard human rights.”

Published in Dawn, January 19th, 2022

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