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Thursday June 13, 2024

Senate panel approves modified law to allow public hanging of rapists

Sherry Rehman, Shahadat Awan express concerns over proposed punishment, emphasising need to avoid measures that incite barbarism

By Asim Yasin
September 29, 2023
An interior of Senate of Pakistan building can be seen in  this picture. — APP/File
An interior of Senate of Pakistan building can be seen in  this picture. — APP/File

ISLAMABAD: The Senate Committee on Interior on Thursday approved Senator Mushtaq Ahmad’s bill of proposed amendments aiming to add the provision for public hangings of rapists. It passed the bill with majority votes.

Senator Mushtaq Ahmad introduced proposed amendments to sections 375, 375A, and 376 of the Pakistan Penal Code (PPC) and Schedule II of the Criminal Procedure Code (CrPC) aimed to remove section D and add the provision for public hangings of rapists. Senators Sherry Rehman and Shahadat Awan expressed their concerns over the proposed punishment, emphasizing the need to avoid measures that might incite barbarism. The Ministry of Interior, in alignment with international treaties, opposed the bill. Senator Mohsin Aziz, Chairman Senate Standing Committee on Interior, presided over a meeting to discuss proposed amendments to the Pakistan Penal Code 1860 and the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1898.

While opposing the amendments, Senator Sherry Rehman raised significant questions regarding the effectiveness and ethical implications of the proposed amendments. She said the PPP strongly opposes public hangings, and public floggings, for more than one reason, and said life sentences must be preferred over capital punishment as as the verdicts can be flawed or based on faulty evidence. Also, she said there is no proven link between deterrence of such crimes and public executions. Civilized societies that value rights have largely abolished executions as a means of punishment. The PPP Senator further said “For us rape is indeed a heinous crime, for which preventive measures are needed, along with less degradation of women or a reduction in their public life, but public execution is also not a solution. During Zia-ul-Haq’s dictatorship, she said capital punishment was extensively employed, yet instead of eradicating this crime, it spread barbarism and violence like wildfire in our society. Sherry expressed a concern that the PPP appeared to be the sole voice opposing this law in the standing committee, emphasizing the need for a more comprehensive and educated approach to address the serious and growing issue of rape in society. She concluded “All the relevant stakeholders, including the Ministry of Human Rights and Foreign Affairs, have opposed the proposed amendments in alignment with international obligations. It is disheartening to see committee members arguing for further brutalization of society. Public hangings will only make citizens more violent, not deterred.”

The Senate Committee on Interior also discussed “the Criminal Laws (Amendment) Bill, 2023,” moved by Senator Mumtaz Zehri. The amendment focused on providing proper treatment and medical examination reports for rape victims through public and private hospitals. After thorough deliberation, the Committee passed the bill with unanimous approval, incorporating essential amendments. It also addressed the pressing issue of private jails and unanimously passed the “Criminal Laws (Amendment) Bill, 2023,” co-sponsored by Senators Mushtaq Ahmed and Samina Mumtaz Zehri. This bill seeks to deter false imprisonment and private jails, an issue acknowledged by representatives from the Ministry of Law and the Ministry of Interior. In the course of the session, the Senate Committee on Interior also discussed other bills, including.

Meanwhile, the Senate Committee on Interior sought reports from the Ministry of Parliamentary Affairs and Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) over Senator Irfan Siddiqui’s bill that went missing after approval of both houses of the parliament. The Senate Committee directed the relevant departments to submit a report within one week. “We will thoroughly investigate the matter,” said the Chairman Senate Committee on Interior Senator Moshin Aziz. He also decided to draft a formal letter to the principal secretary of the Prime Minister’s office and the Secretary of the Ministry of Parliamentary Affairs, requesting a detailed report on the matter. In the event of no response in a week, both officials will be summoned for further discussion in the committee.

Through a letter, Senator Irfan Siddiqui told the committee that the Code of Criminal Procedure (Amendment) Act 2022 bill passed by both houses but has been unaccounted for over the past 15 months. “This is a mockery of the procedure and an insult to the entire parliament,” he said. He said that the bill aiming to curtail the judicial powers of Islamabad district administration officers has vanished after being submitted to the Prime Minister’s office by the Parliamentary Affairs Division for the President’s approval on June 21, 2022. He said that the President’s House has clarified that no such Bill was received.