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HRCP flays tribal justice system

September 02, 2002


ISLAMABAD, Sept 1: The Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP) and the federal law minister on Sunday slammed the tribal justice system as a special court awarded death to six men in the Meerwala gang-rape case.

“It was a case that shocked the whole country and the world,” HRCP Chairman Afrasiab Khattak said.

“This case has raised very important issues — the role of extra judicial tribunals taking the law into their own hands and handing down barbaric punishments.

“The accused have been punished, but the issue will not be over until the state takes up the larger issue of the role of feudal lords and the treatment of women in society,” Khattak told AFP.

In an unusual midnight verdict announced by the special court in the Punjab district of Dera Ghazi Khan, six men accused of the gang-rape of Mukhtaran Mai were sentenced to death.

Two of them were members of the so-called Panchayat (jury) while eight other accused were acquitted.

Law Minister Khalid Ranjha expressed satisfaction that justice had been delivered.

“The speedy trial in the case has established the state’s concern about such shameful offences,” Ranjha told the agency. He said:”This is for the first time in the history of the Panchayat system that members of the jury have also been punished.

“It is a straight message that we are very firm on these issues.”

But Mr Khattak was sceptical because the convicts have a right to appeal in the high court.