Life imprisonment for child abuse convicts in K-P

Parliamentary body to table bill in assembly today


Our Correspondent July 06, 2020
A representational image by Reuters

PESHAWAR:

A parliamentary body, which was formed to offer recommendations for a legislation on child abuse, will table a draft bill in the provincial assembly today (Monday), recommending a lifetime prison sentence for those convicted of sexual assault against minors.

The provincial government had formed a 13-member committee parliamentary committee to devise strict laws on child sexual abuse after eight-year-old Hooz Noor was raped and murdered in Nowshera in January this year.

The panel, which is headed by khyber-Pakhtunkhwa (K-P) Assembly Speaker Mushtaq Ghani, includes members from opposition parties, legal experts and police officers. The committee had prepared a draft bill but it could not be tabled in the provincial assembly because the session was adjourned indefinitely due the novel coronavirus (Covid-19) pandemic.

Under the proposed draft bill, a child protection and welfare commission will be set up and will be led by the provincial minister for social welfare commission as its chairperson. The social welfare secretary will be the vice-chairperson and will include the secretaries of the finance, home, local government, elementary and secondary education ministries, provincial lawmakers, civil society members, and religious scholars.

Moreover, special seven child protection courts - which the provincial government had approved in February this year - will decide abuse cases. Convicts appeal against the decisions of these courts in the high court within a month of the verdict being issued.

The special parliamentary committee had previously considered including provisions for a public execution for those convicted of the heinous offence.

However, after strong opposition from political parties and rights activists, the committee proposed a lifetime jail term for convicts. Moreover, it would declare corporal punishment as an indictable crime.

Along with the child abuse bill, a narcotics control amendments bill and a bill related to the health of newborns will also be presented in the session.

The Senate Special Committee on Child Protection was informed in January this year that the incidents of child abuse had increased in K-P during the year 2019.

The committee was further informed that as many as 252 cases of child abuse had been registered in Abbottabad alone.

The committee was further told that in 80 per cent of child abuse cases, teachers, relatives and other close associates were normally involved.

Speaking to The Express Tribune, Pakistan Peoples Party MPA Nighat Orakzai said that the government has not approached the opposition regarding the legislation against child abuse.

Published in The Express Tribune, July 6th, 2020.

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