PESHAWAR: The Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Assembly on Tuesday passed the much-delayed provincial Child Protection and Welfare (Amendment) Bill, 2022, making punishments for crimes against children, including sexual abuse, pornography, organ trade and trafficking, more stringent.

The bill, which was introduced in the house in March 2022, had been under discussion at multiple forums. Civil society groups and lawmakers had carried out a campaign for enhancing punishments for sexual offenders in the wake of the rape and death of a minor girl in Nowshera district two years ago.

The assembly had constituted a special committee on child abuse to recommend certain amendments to the existing law. The amended act has death sentence or imprisonment of life and fine which shall not be less than two million to five million rupees for the offender involved in dealing with organs of a child.

Significantly, the exiting law already carries death sentence for the offender involved in dealing with the child organs. Fine in the original law is up to Rs1 million for a convicted person.

Visit of Pakistani expats to Israel echoes in house amid sloganeering, walkout

The assembly passed amendment to Section 48 of the law. The amendment section says that whoever commits an offence of child pornography shall be punished with rigorous imprisonment, which shall not be less than 14 years and may be extended to 20 years and shall also be liable to fine, which may not be less than two million and may extend to seven million rupees.

In the original law, punishment was three-seven years imprisonment and fine of Rs200,000-Rs500,000 for the offender involved in pornography of a child. Punishment for offender involved in seduction of child has been increased. The amended law carries up to 10-year imprisonment and shall be liable to fine which may extend to two million rupees.

The amended law carries life imprisonment for offender involved in child trafficking. “Whoever involves himself in child trafficking within Pakistan shall be punished with imprisonment for life or a term which may extended to 25 years, but which shall not be less than 14 years and shall also be liable to fine which may extend to Rs5 million.

The amended act also carries life imprisonment for a person involved in sexual abuse fine up to Rs 5 million. Opposition members staged walkout from the proceeding as result their amendments were dropped.

The amended law says that 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.

It also carries prohibition of employment for the offenders, use of public transport and also calls for punishment for willfully recruitment of an offender.

The government introduced the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Emergency Rescues Services (Amendment) Bill, 2022 and the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Local Government (Amendment) Bill, 2022 in the House. The assembly passed the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Antiquities (Amendment) Bill, 2022 and the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Occupational Safety and Health Bill, 2022.

The visit of Pakistani expatriates to Israel echoed in the assembly amid sloganeering and walkout after the chair, Deputy Speaker Mahmood Jan, did not allow the opposition members to speak on the adjournment motion before admitting the item for a detailed discussion.

MPA Mohammad Abdul Salam tabled the motion to hold discussion on the visit of a delegation of Pakistani Americans to the Jewish state and subsequent meeting with Israeli President Isaac Herzog.

The lawmaker said the Israeli president had confirmed his meeting with the Pakistani delegation and termed it very amazing.

He said the current ‘imported’ federal government’s dirty move regarding recognition of the Jewish state would spark crises in Pakistan as well as Muslim world.

“Such move [recognition of Israel] will be tantamount to great betrayal with the right of self-determination of Palestinians and will badly effect Pakistan’s stand in this regard,” said the motion.

The opposition staged a walkout when the chair didn’t allow lawmakers of the Muttahida Majlis-i-Amal to briefly express opinion on the matter before admitting the motion. Members of both sides taunted each other by shouting slogans like ‘Friends of America are traitors’.

Published in Dawn, June 1st, 2022

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