ISLAMABAD: The draft prepared on ‘Acid Control and Burn Crime Prevention Bill’ by the women ministry will be sent to the law ministry to ‘criminalise acid and burn related violence by providing tougher and stricter penalties’.
The bill has been prepared by Barrister Naveed Khan of Acid Survivors Foundation along with civil society members and other legal experts.
The Supreme Court of Pakistan had earlier taken a suo motu notice suggesting that the government should introduce a new legislation to overcome acid crimes in the country. A meeting was held at the Ministry of Women Development office on Wednesday, where the topic was discussed amongst the government officials and other members of the civil society. Advisor to Prime Minister Yasmeen Rehman along with Dr Fouzia Saeed (Acid Survivors Foundation), Fehmida Iqbal (United Nation Development Funds for Women (UNIFEM) and others were present on the occasion.
“The bill will soon be presented in the parliament after it is reviewed by the law ministry and women development ministry,” said Rehman. “The purpose of the bill is to control the import, production, transportation, boarding, sale and use of acid to prevent the misuse of acid as a corrosive substance and to provide legal support to acid and burn victims,” she added.
Barrister Naveed Khan said that the draft of the bill covered all of the legal requirements for the protection of acid survivors in the state. “All crimes under this act will be cognizable, non-compoundable and non-bailable,” he added.
“The fund mechanism for the victims, reporting mechanism and free accessibility will also be considered important clauses of this bill. Measures will be taken in the light of Supreme Court’s judgment in Naila’s case of 2009,” he said. Naila was an acid victim from Layyah, a district of southern Punjab. “National Acid Control Council will be established to implement the act in every province,” Yasmeen Rahman said.
“There is a dire need to make the provincial Acid Control Committees much more effective so as to prevent sale of acids in their relevant areas of jurisdiction,” she explained.
Yasmeen Rahman added that there are many provisions in the Pakistan Penal Code which may address these crimes to some extent but the enormity of the consequences faced by the victims called for severer penalties.
Moreover, ASF Chairperson Dr Fauzia Saeed said that there was a pressing need to keep a check on acid which was so readily available across the country.
“Acid attacks become a relatively cheap and effective way of committing acts of violence against women and the implementation of this bill will be helpful to prevent the acid crimes in the country,” she concluded.
Published in The Express Tribune, August 12th, 2010.