In order to curb growing incidents of acid throwing, Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa’s (K-P) civil society has asked the provincial government to pass the Acid and Burn Crime Bill before its tenure ends.
A meeting to discuss the bill was held on Friday by the Acid Survivors Foundation (ASF), End Violence against Women (K-P and Fata), UNAid and UN Women. The seminar was also attended by lawyers, medical specialists and members of the provincial assembly.
A proposed draft of the bill was made, which will be sent to the law department and then to the provincial assembly.
The draft says that a female investigative officer should be appointed to deal with cases of acid throwing and the monitoring board should include personnel from the health department. It also suggested that a monitoring board should be established for the implementation of all laws related to women.
MPA Tabasum Younus Katozai said that easy access to acid has resulted in the growing number of burn cases in the province.
“The crime will be curbed only when the culprits are given severe punishment,” said another MPA Munawar Sultana, adding that religious scholars need to play their due role in this regard. She further added that doctors should provide free treatment to all burn victims.
ASF Co-Chairman Valerie Khan said they had received a number of burn cases in DI Khan, but could not reach the victims because the families did not want to report the cases.
In November 2009, Supreme Court Chief Justice (CJ) Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry addressed the issue in a suo moto case of Naila Farhat. He said that the government should pass the Acid and Burn Crime Act, which would specifically deal with acid attack cases in terms of prevention and punishment, and the Acid Control Act, to regulate the sale and purchase of acid, as was done by Bangladesh in 2002.
He had also directed the government to give free medical treatment to acid burn victims and provide them legal aid and rehabilitation facilities.
A total of 43 cases of acid throwing were reported in 2009, 55 in 2010 and 155 in 2011. Ten cases were reported in the province in September and October this year.
Salient features of the draft
• Persons involved in acid attacks should be awarded death penalty or life imprisonment depending on the nature of the crime
• Courts should direct the government to provide monetary relief for acid victims at any stage of the trial
• Attempts to carry out an offense of acid or burn attack shall be punishable with a minimum of three years imprisonment and a fine of Rs0.1 million
• Immediate treatment should be provided to victims at any government or private medical facility. Photographic evidence should be maintained and concerned law enforcement agencies should be contacted
• Free treatment shall be provided at every government-run medical facility
• Investigation should be carried out within 14 days
• Public prosecutors shall be appointed in each province
Published in The Express Tribune, November 17th, 2012.
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