Senate body passes resolution seeking death sentence in child sexual abuse, murder cases

ISLAMABAD: Breaking from its stance against the death sentence, the PPP strongly supported the hanging of those convicted of child sexual abuse and murder.

Senate Standing Committee on Interior Chairman PPP Senator Rehman Malik suspended the agenda of the parliamentary body’s meeting and announced that the committee will discuss the kidnapping, rape and murder of two girls, seven and four, from Kasur and Mardan.

During his tenure as the interior minister, the then president Asif Ali Zardari had put a moratorium on death sentences on the demand of the European Union.

In the meeting, Mr Malik proposed that the child sexual abuse and murder be punished by hanging.

“We need to know why the murderers could not be tracked down. Many people have called me and suggested that culprits of such heinous crimes should be hanged in public. According to section 364-A of the Pakistan Penal Code, a person can be given the death penalty, life imprisonment or a minimum of seven years of imprisonment for kidnapping or murdering a child of less than 14 years. It is unfortunate that we have failed to give justice to our children,” he said.

He then tabled a resolution which was unanimously passed by the committee. He said a draft bill will be moved to make amendments to the law. However, Senator Javed Abbasi said the execution of death sentences can be done by amending the rules and that new legislation is therefore not needed. The interior ministry was then directed to give input on whether public executions can be done by making amendments to the rules.

Supreme Court advocate Anees Jillani disagreed with the suggestion and said its implementation will mean there is no difference between the government and the Taliban.

The father of seven-year-old Zainab, who was kidnapped, raped and killed in Kasur, Ameen Ansari was also invited to the meeting. He said his daughter and her five-year-old cousin were going to their aunt’s house on Jan 4 for Quran lessons.

“Zainab had some money and she went to the shop while her cousin went to their aunt’s house. The shop is just 100 metres from their aunt’s house. When Usman came home, the family got to know that Zainab had not gone to her aunt’s house and that she was missing. I was in Saudi Arabia so my brother-in-law informed the police,” he told the meeting.

“Residents of the area cooperated but the police did nothing for the recovery of the child. They were requested to get sniffer dogs to track down Zainab and the family even offered to pay for this, but the police did not. When the body was found and identified, we once again requested the police to get sniffer dogs but they refused. Locals cooperated with us and provided CCTV footage in which my daughter can be seen with the suspect,” Mr Ansari said.

He added that the CCTV footage shows the suspect passing through the area the morning after the abduction which meant he was still in the area.

“My family requested the police to cordon off the area and search all houses, but they refused. Officials visited [us] a few times and would go back after eating oranges,” he said.

Mr Ansari said he was told that the suspect had used a spray which dazes children.

Additional Inspector General of Police (IGP) Investigation Punjab, Khuda Bakhsh said nine such cases had been reported since June 2015 within a three kilometre radius in which girls between the ages of five and 10 were kidnapped and sexually abused.

“DNA tests show that in eight of the cases, the culprit is the same. He throws the dead bodies near the victim’s house so the family gets the bodies. We have deputed as many as 200 people for the arrest of the suspect and 692 DNA tests have been conducted despite the fact that one test costs Rs60,000. Inter Services Intelligence is also helping us in identifying the culprit,” he said.

Senator Malik suggested that a national database of DNA be formed with the help of the National Database and Registration Authority.

“Culprits will be identified within minutes if we had such a database,” he said.

Deputy Inspector General Mardan Alam Khan Shinwari said the police was investigating the case of the four-year-old girl killed in Mardan and that so far, it has not been determined if she was sexually abused. The committee decided to call the doctor who had conducted her medical exam.