Senate Chairman Raza Rabbani on Wednesday sought a report from the Committee of Law and Justice over amendments recommended by the Committee of Interior seeking public hanging of abductors who kill or sexually assault minors.
The bill proposed by the committee, entitled the Criminal Law Amendment Act 2018, seeks to amend the Pakistan Penal Code Act 1860’s Section 364-A (kidnapping or abducting a person under the age of 14) so that the punishment for the crime is a public execution.
Earlier in the day, Senate Standing Committee on Interior Chairman Rehman Malik had requested the Senate to take up a bill seeking public hanging of those found guilty of kidnapping or raping children under the age of 14.
Debating the recommendations, Senator Hasil Bizenjo and Senator Farhatullah Babar strongly opposed the amendments.
“Zainab [rape and murder] incident is unfortunate but the demand for public hanging is also not correct,” Bizenjo said.
“One person was hanged publicly in Lahore during Zia’s era. We should not revert to that,” Babar added. “If the law is amended today, the demands will not stop and calls for hanging everyone will be raised.”
Barrister Saif and Senator Sitara Ayaz claimed that sexual abuse of children is rampant at Pir Wadhai stop in Rawalpindi but no action had been taken.
Chairman Senate sought a reply from the law ministry on the issue and sent the matter to the committee on law and justice for further deliberations.
He also asked the law minister to participate in the committee’s discussions on the issue.
Section 364-A currently reads: “Whoever kidnaps or abducts any person under the [age of fourteen] in order that such person may be murdered or subjected to grievous hurt… or to the lust of any person [sic] shall be punished with death.”
The amendment suggested by the committee on interior seeks to add the phrase, “by hanging publicly”, after the word “death” in the current legislation, the letter said.
The bill seeks the same amendment to the CrPC, 1898, Schedule II, Column 1 against Section 364-A.
The committee’s request for amendments to the PPC and CrPC come a day after the arrest of a suspected serial rapist and murderer in Kasur was announced by the Punjab government, concluding a two-week-long manhunt launched after the rape and murder of six-year-old Zainab Amin sparked outrage across the country.
Punjab Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif, while announcing the arrest at a press conference last night, had seconded the demand for a public hanging of the culprit after conviction in court, and stressed that this is what Zainab’s family, he himself, and the entire nation wants.