PESHAWAR: The Khyber Pakhtunkhwa government has removed a controversial clause about the audio-visual recording of the execution of child sexual abuse offenders from the amended KP Child Protection and Welfare (Amendment) Bill, 2022, which was tabled in the provincial assembly on Monday.

The bill seeking enhancement in child-related offences, including sexual abuse, pornography and dealing with organs, has been pending for more than two years.

The amended bill suggests drastic changes to the law and landed in the assembly in the aftermath of the growing incidents of child abuse, rape and murder in the province.

It was finalised after lengthy discussion and deliberation among stakeholders.

One of the controversial provisions in the initial draft, which was related to the audio and video recording of execution of an offender, has been removed over serious reservations voiced by civil society groups.

Minister tells PA ‘international establishment’ trying to sabotage peace in country

The amended bill recommends death sentence or life imprisonment for offenders involved in dealing with child organs, 20 years of maximum rigorous imprisonment for child pornographer and also life imprisonment or a term which may extend to 25 years for offenders involved in child trafficking.

Labour minister Shaukat Ali Yousafzai introduced the bill in the assembly’s session chaired by deputy speaker Mahmood Jan.

The bill recommends substitution in Section 41 of the law.

According to it, whoever commits an offence of dealing with organs of a child may be punished with sentence of death or imprisonment of life and shall also be liable to fine which shall not be less than Rs2 million and may be extended Rs5 million. Punishment for offenders involved in child pornography has been enhanced.

The bill said if a person committed an offence of child pornography, he would be punished with rigorous imprisonment of not less than 14 years and extendable to 20 years and would be liable to fine not less than Rs2 million and up to Rs7 million.

According to amended Section 50 of the act, whoever seduces a child by any means whatsoever with an intent to involve him in any sexual activity or exposes him to obscene sexually explicit material, document, a film video or a computer-generated image or attempts to do the aforementioned action, shall be punished with rigorous imprisonment of either description for a term which may extend to ten years and liable to fine which may extend to Rs2 million.

The police in consultation with the Child Protection and Welfare Commission shall maintain a register of sexual offenders, which shall contain the names of convicted persons, referred by the court or by the prosecutors, who are involved in any sexual offence against the child under this act.

The bill suggests prohibition of employment for the offenders, use of public transport and also calls for punishment for willfully recruitment of an offender.

The government also introduced the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Press, Newspapers, News Agencies and Books Registration (Amendment) Bill, 2022 in the assembly.

Earlier, the lawmakers completed debate on an adjournment motion related to law and order situation, the recent suicide attack on a mosque in Peshawar, targeted killing, increase in cases of extortion and kidnapping for ransom in the province.

Winding up debate on the motion, minister for higher education Kamran Khan Bangash said ‘international establishment and players’ were trying to sabotage peace and security in the country, particularly in KP, while enemies were also using diplomatic channels to damage Pakistan’s image.

He said vested interests tried to give the Peshawar mosque suicide attack the sectarian colour and politicised it, but the residents of the provincial capital foiled the enemies’ plan by forging unity.

The minister said some officials of the security agencies were also martyred in the suicide attack as they were offering prayers.

He dispelled the impression that the federal and provincial governments were oblivious of their duties, saying the previous government of Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf had established the counter-terrorism department (CTD) during its previous tenure.

Mr Bangash said the department had arrested 1,200 terrorists and 500 proclaimed offenders and killed 75 terrorists during encounters, while 142 terrorists had been convicted.

He said the government had allocated billions of rupees worth of funds for the procurement of weapons and other equipment for the police.

Awami National Party member Khushdil Khan, who had tabled the motion, said the government had failed to provide protection to its citizens.

He said the government should share details of the suicide blast probe with lawmakers as the prime minister had claimed that he knew about the whereabouts and links of the attacker and facilitators.

PPP lawmaker Nighat Yasmin Orakzai asked the government to increase the salary of the police force.

She said the attacker had crossed around 35 ‘checkpoints and checkposts’ to reach the Koocha Risaldar mosque for bombing.

Published in Dawn, March 15th, 2022

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