Civil Society Calls for a Comprehensive Legislation to Eradicate Acid and Burn Crimes in Pakistan
Islamabad: Civil society organizations have called upon legislators to pass a comprehensive law to eradicate crimes involving acid throwing and other burn attacks and provide support to victims of such crimes. While welcoming an amendment in the Pakistani Penal Code adopted by the National Assembly of Pakistan to enhance the punishment for acid crimes, the civil society has emphasized the need for a more comprehensive legislation for the purpose.
Through a statement issued on May 17, a number of civil society organizations welcomed the amendment as a significant achievement “as it acknowledges the gravity of acid crimes and enhances punishment for acid crimes”. However, they declared that the bill was not enough to eradicate acid crimes from Pakistan. They demanded that in the light of a verdict made by the Supreme Court of Pakistan, the parliament should adopt a comprehensive legislation on the model of the Bangladeshi law.
Pakistani government and law makers need to follow the example of Bangladesh where number of acid throwing incidents, have dropped from 500 a year in 1998 to 60 a year more recently because of effective legislation and improved compliance.
The current amendment does not address the investigation process that often faces delays and is biased against survivors and their families. There is a need to make investigation and police officer accountable and ensure protection to victims and witnesses through law. Length of trial also needs to be fixed and accountability should be set in case of an unfair trial.
There is strong need for 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/funding system that could facilitate implementation, awareness and preventive steps.
The civil society calls for early legislation of the proposed Acid and Burn Crimes Act 2011 that was drafted in light of the order of the Supreme Court of Pakistan after extensive process of stakeholders’ consultation involving civil-society, legal and medical experts, local communities, law enforcement agencies, international organisations, media and survivors.