Majority of child abuse suspects set free due to poor investigations

Report says 25 minors were raped and murdered in K-P in the past five years


Ahtesham Khan February 13, 2020
PHOTO: AFP

PESHAWAR: Even as lawmakers in the province call for publicly executing culprits in child abuse cases, a police report has suggested that suspects in as many as 80 per cent of child abuse cases in the province are acquitted by courts.

The report was presented by Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa (K-P) Investigation Additional Inspector General (IG) Feroz Shah in a briefing provided to K-P IG Sanaullah Abbasi on child abuse cases in the province.

AIG Shah said that as many as 25 minors have been raped and murdered in the province in the last five years. During this time, 22 suspects were challanned in these cases but only six were convicted and the remaining 18 were acquitted.

Documents, available with The Express Tribune, show that as many as five cases of children being sexually abused and then murdered were reported in 2015. In these cases, five suspects were arrested of which four were set free due to the lack of evidence against them. Only one suspect was convicted.

Similarly, in 2016, six cases of child abuse and murder had been reported across the province in which six suspects were arrested and challanned. However, only three suspects were convicted while the remaining three were released. The three accused were convicted because the police had followed the court’s directions in the cases, the report added.

In 2017, the report said that three suspects were apprehended in as many cases. However, two of these suspects were released and only one was sentenced.

Similarly, in 2018, eight cases were reported in which seven suspects were released by the court due to flaws in the investigation reports and also due to limited knowledge of investigation officers in such cases. Only one suspect was convicted.

The report further said that in 2019, three cases of minors being raped and murdered were reported in the province. Of these, only two cases have been completed with papers challans filed and reports submitted to the courts. Suspects in one of the three cases had not been traced so far, the report said.

Speaking to The Express Tribune, Investigation AIG Shah admitted to the poor ratio of conviction in child abuse and murder cases.

Explaining the reason for this, he said that there was a lack of knowledge amongst officers to adequately collect forensic evidence apart from poor investigation techniques.

Shah further said that all officers investigating cases of child abuse should be trained in handling forensic evidence from crime scenes.

He further said that in the past, child abuse cases would usually go unreported, but now they were being reported in media as well as at police stations in increasing numbers. He said that it was the need of the hour to equip police officials with modern techniques for evidence extraction.

Last month, after the rape and murder of an eight-year-old girl, Hooz Noor in Nowshera, the K-P government had formed a 13-member parliamentary body to make recommendations for drafting a law against child abuse in the province. The committee recommended the public hanging of convicts of child abuse.

K-P Advocate General (AG) Shumail Butt last week said that the provincial government has suggested enhancing punishments for convicts in cases of sexual assault on minors.

The AIG further said that they had recommended setting up of model courts to hear cases of sexual assault on minors. Moreover, they had recommended life imprisonment as the minimum punishment in such cases.

The AG had hoped that within a month, the law will be presented and passed by the provincial assembly.

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