Senate panel okays bill for public hanging of rapists

Published September 29, 2023
Chairman Senate Standing Committee on Interior Senator Mohsin Aziz presides over a meeting of the committee at Parliament House Islamabad on Sept 28. — Senate website
Chairman Senate Standing Committee on Interior Senator Mohsin Aziz presides over a meeting of the committee at Parliament House Islamabad on Sept 28. — Senate website

• Sherry, ministries oppose move, advocate life sentences instead; bill to deter private jails also cleared
• HR committee takes up Ranipur maid’s murder, suggests plugging holes in Sindh’s child labour laws

ISLAMABAD: A Senate panel on Thursday passed a bill by majority vote with some amendments for publicly hanging rapists, despite opposition from the PPP, interior and foreign affairs ministries.

The bill, proposed by Senator Mushtaq Ahmed of Jamaat-i-Islami, aims to amend sections 375, 375A, and 376 of the Pakistan Penal Code (PPC) and Schedule-II of the Criminal Procedure Code (CrCP).

The Senate Standing Committee on Interior, chaired by Senator Mohsin Aziz, discussed these amendments to remove section D and introduce public hangings for rapists. The demand for public hangings gained momentum following the gang-rape incident on the Lahore-Sialkot motorway in September 2020.

Senator Sherry Rehman of PPP strongly opposed public hangings, preferring life sentences due to flawed verdicts and the lack of evidence linking deterrence to public executions. She emphasised that civilised societies have largely abolished executions as punishment.

Senator Rehman questioned the effectiveness and ethical implications of the proposed amendments, citing past use of capital punishment during Gen Ziaul Haq’s dictatorship. She argued that public hangings would not deter crime but increase societal brutality, especially among marginalised groups.

The committee also approved the “Criminal Laws (Amendment) Bill, 2023”, moved by Senator Mumtaz Zehri, focusing on proper treatment and medical examination reports for rape victims through public and private hospitals.

They addressed the issue of private jails and passed the “Criminal Laws (Amendment) Bill, 2023”, co-sponsored by Senators Mushtaq Ahmed and Samina Mumtaz Zehri to deter false imprisonment within residences.

Other bills were discussed during the session, including one temporarily rejected due to its sub judice status, and another was rejected.

The committee also passed the “Rain Water Harvesting Facility in Urban Areas, Bill 2023,” to efficiently utilise rainwater, supported by CDA representatives.

Senator Irfan Siddiqui raised concerns about a missing bill for almost 15 months and decided to request a detailed report on the matter from relevant officials.

The meeting was attended by various senators, including Saifullah Abro, Samina Mumtaz Zehri, and Sherry Rehman, as well as bill movers Senator Mushtaq Ahmed and Palwasha Muhammad Zai Khan, along with government representatives.

Amendments to Sindh child labour laws

Separately, officials briefed a Senate committee, calling for amendments to the Sindh Child Prohibition Employment Act to discourage child domestic labour.

The Senate Human Rights Committee, led by Senator Walid Iqbal, discussed the tragic death of a nine-year-old girl in Ranipur, who worked as a minor housemaid and allegedly suffered torture and sexual abuse.

During the briefing, the human rights secretary stated that the incident occurred on August 16, 2023. The accused were arrested on the same day. He suggested amending the Sindh Child Prohibition Employment Act, adding that it lacked provisions for preventing child domestic labour. He emphasised the need for an inspection mechanism to monitor child domestic abuse effectively. Additionally, there was a need for a consistent definition of “child” nationwide.

Regarding concerns about alleged DNA sample tampering, officials denied the allegations and explained that samples were sent to Jamshoro and Karachi Institute first. Due to technology limitations and the case’s sensitivity, samples were later sent to Lahore, and the DNA report would be available in the coming days.

The committee expressed dissatisfaction with the Sindh Police for delaying the DNA report. Senator Iqbal remarked that evidence tampering was a significant factor leading to the avoidance of punishment in around 78 per cent of criminal cases.

Ayesha Raza Farooq, Chairperson of the National Commission on the Rights of the Child, mentioned that they had contacted the Sindh Child Protection Authority about rumours of another minor being held captive at the same location, but received no response.

The Sindh Social Welfare secretary reported the rescue of eight young girls from the site and a compensation of Rs1 million given to the deceased’s family. Senator Walid Iqbal recommended that all provinces enact legislation to prevent child domestic abuse and ensure justice in child abuse cases.

The committee also discussed the illegal arrest of Pastor Luke Vicktor and Ghazala Shafique in Jaranwala, Faisalabad. The committee instructed the RPO to submit the inquiry report once completed.

Published in Dawn, September 29th, 2023

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