Rival parties in Senate join hands to block bill seeking public hanging of rapists

Published February 20, 2024
PPP leader Sherry Rehman speaks during the Senate session on Monday. — DawnNewsTV
PPP leader Sherry Rehman speaks during the Senate session on Monday. — DawnNewsTV

ISLAMABAD: The Senate on Monday blocked a bill proposing public hanging for rape offenders with a majority vote of 24 against 14.

In a rare happening, all the three major political parties, including PML-N, PPP, and PTI joined hands to oppose the motion seeking immediate consideration of Criminal Laws (Amendment) Bill 2023, moved by Senator Mushtaq Ahmad of Jamaat-i-Islami.

PPP Vice President Senator Sherry Rehman was the first to object to the proposal, which aimed to introduce public executions for rapists through amendments to the Pakistan Penal Code (PPC) and Criminal Procedure Code.

“The Peoples Party has always had a principled stance against the death penalty, whether public or private. While the PPP staunchly condemns rape as a heinous and grave crime, calling for the death penalty or public executions, as seen in various countries, has not proven effective in deterring sexual crimes,” she remarked.

PML-Q member says capital punishment in US is implemented by lethal injection; House to hold debate on poll rigging today

“If public hanging is advocated for one crime, it will be demanded for other offences as well,” she observed.

PML-N leader Senator Irfanul Haq Siddi­qui also opposed the proposed legislation and said there were negative impressions about Pakistan related to extremism, violence, oppression, and harassment of women.

He stated that as far as the severity of the crime was concerned, it demanded stringent punishment. However, he differed with Sherry Rehman’s contention regarding the abolition of capital punishment. Senator Siddiqui observed that public hangings would not have a positive and pleasant effect on children and society as a whole.

He was of the view that the proposed legislation would affect Pakistan’s image internationally and promote cruelty.

Leader of the House in the Senate Ishaq Dar also pointed out that capital punishment for the offence was already present in the law and opposed the amendment to the extent of public hanging.

PPP Senator Taj Haider stressed the need to reform the criminal justice and prison system, involving training to reform jail inmates to become responsible citizens. He was of the opinion that respect for humanity can help reform society and noted that public hangings erode respect for humanity.

Barrister Ali Zafar of PTI also opposed the proposed legislation and called for strengthening the investigation and prosecution system.

Tahir Bizenjo of the National Party said there would be no need for executions if the provision of justice was ensured, and root causes of crime were addressed.

Former Minister of State for Parliamentary Affairs Shahadat Awan said public hanging would be against the dignity of man guaranteed under Article 14 of the constitution.

Kamil Ali Agha of PML-Q, however, said capital punishment in the US is implemented by poison injections, which come to public domain when their videos are released.

Senator Humayun Mohmand of PTI supported the amendment, saying that the crime rate in countries that award public hanging sentences for crimes like rape and murder is lower.

Senator Mushtaq Ahmed said the bill would eliminate, not promote, cruelty and barbarism in society. Maulana Daiz of JUI-F also supported the proposed amendment.

Protest

Another highlight of the day’s proceedings was a protest staged in the House against alleged rigging in the recently held general elections.

At the outset of the session, senators belonging to PTI, JI, JUI-F, and NP staged the protest in front of the chairman’s podium. The lawmakers came into the House wearing black armbands and carrying placards inscribed with slogans like “rigged election unacceptable”.

They gathered in front of the main dais of the chairman Senate, demanding that they should be allowed to speak on the matter. They also raised slogans of “fake election unacceptable”.

The Senate chairman insisted that the lawmakers first bring a motion in the House to debate the matter.

JUI-F Senator Kamran Murtaza, who was the first one to get a chance to speak on the issue, underlined that shutdowns against election rigging have brought Balochistan to a halt, while the same problem persisted in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Sindh.

“The elections were conducted while violating the constitution, but now we have violated the public mandate,” he said, referring to the fact that elections were held in the country beyond the maximum constitutional limit of 90 days.

Senator Kamran said that the admission of former commissioner Rawalpindi, Liaquat Ali Chattha, that rigging in the election was committed under his watch had put a question mark on the authenticity of elections held in the most populous Punjab. He mentioned that government officers and winning candidates were even questioning the sanctity of the election.

PTI Senator Ali Zafar also said that the issue of rigging in the election should be taken up in the House without delay.

On this, Senate Chairman Sadiq Sanjrani agreed that the House would hold a thorough debate on the matter of alleged rigging for today while suspending the question hour and not taking up the normal business.

Published in Dawn, February 20th, 2024

Opinion

Editorial

X post facto
Updated 19 Apr, 2024

X post facto

Our decision-makers should realise the harm they are causing.
Insufficient inquiry
19 Apr, 2024

Insufficient inquiry

UNLESS the state is honest about the mistakes its functionaries have made, we will be doomed to repeat our follies....
Melting glaciers
19 Apr, 2024

Melting glaciers

AFTER several rain-related deaths in KP in recent days, the Provincial Disaster Management Authority has sprung into...
IMF’s projections
Updated 18 Apr, 2024

IMF’s projections

The problems are well-known and the country is aware of what is needed to stabilise the economy; the challenge is follow-through and implementation.
Hepatitis crisis
18 Apr, 2024

Hepatitis crisis

THE sheer scale of the crisis is staggering. A new WHO report flags Pakistan as the country with the highest number...
Never-ending suffering
18 Apr, 2024

Never-ending suffering

OVER the weekend, the world witnessed an intense spectacle when Iran launched its drone-and-missile barrage against...