Wednesday, May 18, 2011
Though they welcomed the recently passed amendment in the Pakistan Penal Code on acid crime that enhances the punishment for perpetrators from 14 years to life imprisonment and increases the fine, they declared that the bill was not enough to eradicate acid crimes in Pakistan.
They were speaking at a press briefing organised by Acid Survivors Foundation (ASF). The briefing was addressed by the organisations and individuals that were involved in the making a comprehensive legislation on the orders of Chief Justice Iftikhar Mohammad Chaudhary.
They demanded that in the light of November 2009 verdict made by the Supreme Court of Pakistan in Naila Farhat’s case, the Parliament should adopt a comprehensive legislation on the model of Bangladesh law. “In Bangladesh, the number of acid throwing incidents has dropped from 500 a year in 1998 to 60 a years,” said ASF Chairperson Valerie Khan.
She said that the current amendment is a significant achievement, but it does not address the investigative process that often faces delays and is biased against survivors and the families. “There is a need to make investigation and police officers accountable and ensure protection to victims and witnesses through law.” Valarie said that there is a strong need of an authority or a forum to support victims in medical treatment, socio-economic rehabilitation and legal support besides collecting and maintaining data and establishing an appropriate surveillance and funding system that could facilitate implementation, awareness and preventive steps.
She called for early legislation of the proposed Acid and Burn Crime Act 2011 that was drafted in the light of the order of Supreme Court of Pakistan after extensive process of consultation with stakeholders including civil society, legal and medical experts, local communities, survivors, international organizations Ministry of Women Development and NCSW.
Representing NCSW, Dr. Fauzia Saeed said that the commission has worked closely with other senior legal experts to look at the initial proposal developed by the ASF to develop a more comprehensive bill to curb acid and burn crimes. “This bill addresses issues related to prevention, the crime itself and the rehabilitation.” She said that they are pleased about the recent amendment in Pakistan Penal Code and would like the provinces to take on the full version of the legislation, as after 18th Amendment, provinces are empowered to legislate on issues related to women and human rights. “For now, our priority is a comprehensive legislation of the crimes related to acid and burn,” she said.
National Manager on Violence against Children for Sparc Imtiaz Ahmed said that 25 per cent of acid burn victims are children and among them 50 per cent are girls and 50 per cent are boys.