Death for rapists under consideration

September 18, 2020

ISLAMABAD: The government is considering various changes in the present set of rape laws to introduce the death penalty for the rapists of children and women whose cases involve aggravating factors....

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ISLAMABAD: The government is considering various changes in the present set of rape laws to introduce the death penalty for the rapists of children and women whose cases involve aggravating factors. It is also considering setting up special courts and making the offence non-compoundable.

A key cabinet member involved in the process of drafting these proposals confided to The News that the proposal of chemical castration is also being included but with the caveat that castration will not cure the criminal mindset of the culprit who would still be free to hurt anyone in some other manner.

These proposals, it is said, do not include the option of public hanging but might suggest televising the hanging of such culprits directly from jail to ‘create a deterrence’. However, it is clarified that these proposals are subject to change as they will be first discussed within the PTI in a day or two. They would then be tabled in parliament for discussion and debate before they take final shape as the will of the majority.

The set of proposals being prepared include making the offence of rape non-compoundable, which means that the parties concerned cannot reach a compromise to drop the case.

At present, the offence of rape does not carry the death penalty. An amendment is now being proposed that the death penalty will be handed down to the rapists of children. The same punishment of death is being proposed for those who rape women where the rape case includes any of the aggravating factors.

In rape cases where the offender gets a life sentence, it would now mean jail for life or imprisonment till death. In cases where rapists get jail terms for a specific number of years, no remissions would be allowed. Convicted rapists will not be entitled to any kind of remission or pardon.

According to another proposal, rape cases would be investigated by a gazetted police officer, preferably a woman officer. To ensure a speedy trial, there is a suggestion to set up special courts for rape cases. Rape victims usually find it very traumatic to appear in court. In particular, the cross examination in an open court can be highly embarrassing and distressing for the victim. To help a rape victim defend her case without being subjected to further trauma, it is being proposed that the victim will be cross examined through a video link. The rape survivor will be allowed to cover her face. In the courtroom, only the judge, court staff and lawyers of the two sides would be allowed to witness the proceedings.

The government is considering presenting these proposals before the PTI parliamentary party for discussion and then to table the amendments in parliament by next week.

It is also being considered to leave it to the conscience of individual members of parliament to decide which amendments they support rather than voting according to an official line set down by their political party.



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