Feb. 8


Karnataka to go the MP way? Considers death penalty for rapists of minor girls----"From molestation to rape, there has been an increase in crimes against children," said Home Minister Ramalinga Reddy to TNM.

The Madhya Pradesh cabinet in December 2017 unanimously passed a Bill to award the death penalty to those involved in the rape or gang-rape of girls below the age of 12. And now, the Karnataka government is mulling doing the same in the state.

Home Minister Ramalinga Reddy discussed the issue in the Legislative Council on Tuesday. Speaking to TNM, he pointed out that there has been an increase in cases of rape under the POCSO Act in Karnataka over the past few years.

"From molestation to rape, there has been an increase in crimes against children. The state government is considering taking serious action by awarding stringent punishment for the serious nature of child rape," he said.

"When Madhya Pradesh passed the Act awarding death penalty to child rapists, I had written to the MP government and gotten a copy of the Act. We are going through the clauses. We are also waiting for a report on the MLC VS Ugrappa Committee, which was set up to probe the safety of women and children in our state. We have received an interim report and are waiting for the final one and also the committee's recommendations," he added.

It is unclear if Karnataka's Bill will be limited to only the rapists of girl children, or will include boys and transgender kids, as well.

While many would see this as a welcome deterrent against sexual crimes against children, experts have earlier pointed out to TNM that the proposal is flawed.

For instance, Kushi Kushalappa of Enfold, an NGO working towards prevention of child sexual abuse, said that the assumption that only girls get raped was "a silly position in today's scenario".

"We have to cover children who are transgender, boys, and girls equally. When we say only girls can be raped, the message that we continue to send out is that girls are more vulnerable. All children are equally vulnerable," she said.

Bengaluru-based researcher Swagata Raha also pointed out that the Madhya Pradesh legislation ignored the fact that most abusers are known to the children. "Are we expecting that children will come forward and then disclose that the abuse has been perpetrated and then go ahead and testify against their fathers, uncles, brothers or neighbours? That's too much of a burden to put on a child," she had argued.

It has also not been established through research if death penalty is really a deterrent for criminals.

There is also the question of whether the death penalty would apply to minors who may commit the crime.

(source: thenewsminute.com)


Do public executions deter violent criminals?

Last month, the Senate Standing Committee on Law and Justice sent a bill to the Council of Islamic Ideology for review. The bill proposes an amendment in the Pakistan Penal Code (PPC) and seeks public execution of criminals charged with kidnapping a child below the age of 14. In the council's meeting, being held today, the amendment was expected to be placed at the top of the agenda.

Article 14 of the Constitution promises that the "dignity of a man and, subject to law, the privacy of home, shall be inviolable." Therefore, a law authorising public killings violates this very spirit.

The Supreme Court in its judgment reported in 1994, SCMR 1028, observed that public hangings even for the worst of criminals violate the right to human dignity as enshrined in Article 14, as well as the right to protection from torture articulated in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights in Islam, a charter produced by leading Muslim scholars in London in April, 1980. Article 7 of the charter declares that a state is not permitted to torture a criminal, especially a suspect: "God will inflict punishment on those who have inflicted torture in this world."

Then there are past precedents. Last year, in the Dr Kumail Abbas Rizvi vs UOP case, the Supreme Court while discussing Article 14 of the Constitution stated: "The right to dignity was one of the cardinal principles of law and most valuable right, which had to be observed in every civilised society - human dignity, honour and respect was more important than physical comforts and necessities." In another case, Dr M Aslam Khaki vs. Federation of Pakistan, the court emphasised that the Quran "confers human dignity upon every person ... subject to law, the privacy of human being is also inviolable."

There is also no empirical evidence to suggest that capital punishment can act as a deterrent against crime. Saudi Arabia is one of the few countries where brutal executions - by beheading, hanging and a firing squad - are a public spectacle. Between January and June 2014, 17 people were executed in Saudi Arabia. In contrast, between January and June 2015, there were 102 executions in total. Nearly 1/2 of the public killings in Saudi Arabia were for drug-related offences, delineating that there were significantly more executions for drug crimes in 2015 than there were in 2014. And that number reportedly increased by 23 % in February 2016 in comparison to the previous year. In addition, the same year, there was a 0.58 % increase in the rate of murder per 100,000 people in the Kingdom, as recorded by the UN Office on Drugs and Crime.

In 1981, a young boy named Pappu was kidnapped from Lahore. His lifeless body was later recovered from near a pond. General Zia-ul-Haq's regime sentenced the kidnapper and killer to death, who was publicly hanged. The man's body hung in full view for an entire day. Yet, soon afterwards between 1983 and 1992, 11 similar incidents of rape were committed against minors, as young as 4 years of age. 4 of them occurred in Lahore, where Pappu's rapist and killer was killed, according to data from HRCP.

In India in 1985, in the Attorney General of India v Lachma Devi case, the Supreme Court of India struck down a directive for public hanging on the basis that "a barbaric crime does not have to be visited with a barbaric penalty such as [public hanging]."

It can also be argued that public executions have adverse effects on the psycho-social well-being of children. In Iran in 2013, after witnessing a public execution; 2 brothers as young as 12 and 8 years of age went home and performed the same act causing the death of the 12-year-old boy.

The UN Human Rights Committee, the monitoring body of the ICCPR, has stated that "public hangings amount to a violation of human dignity" under the covenant. In 2017, the Government of Pakistan committed to reducing the scope of its death penalty in order to bring it in conformity with international human right standards, in order for it to continue a dialogue with the European Union under the GSP+ mechanism. Keeping this in view, legalising public executions would amount to a clear violation of international commitments.

In addition, public hanging would further aggravate the under-reporting of crimes in these cases. Research has proven that in cases of child sex abuse a significant majority of the perpetrators are family members or are otherwise known to the victim, in the capacity of teachers or neighbours. In such cases, if there is an introduction of public hanging, victims and their families will become even less likely to report these cases in order to avoid public embarrassment pertaining to notions of loss of family honour and virtue being associated with sexual abuse.

Justice isn't being served if the very nature of the punishment is both barbaric and ineffective.

(source: Muhammad Pansota is an advocate of the high court, practising in Lahore----geo.tv)


1 awarded death sentence, 5 life imprisonment in Mashal Khan murder case

The anti-terrorism court in Abbotabad on Wednesday awarded death sentence to one and 25-year-prison to five others in the Mashal Khan murder case.

The decision, announced by judge Fazal-e-Subhan Khan at Haripur Central Jail, convicted sentenced 25 others under section 297/148/149 PPC to one (1) year R.I and Under section 11-WW ATA, 1997 to 3 years R.I.

The court exonerated 26 out of 57 accused in the Mardan lynching case. "No conclusive evidence is brought on record against them and at the same time they were not found to have played any overt act in the lynching of Mashal Khan whereas though identified in the videos/PFSA report, they could only be seen standing in the mob or making videos therefore they are acquitted of all charges leveled against them and it is directed that they shall be released forthwith if not required in any other case," the judgement reads.

The capital punishment has been awarded to prime accused Imran Sultan under section 302(b) and section 7(1)(a) of the Pakistan Penal Code (PPC) while 5 have been convicted and sentenced to life-imprisonment under section 302(b)/148/149 of PPC.

The Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa (K-P) government announced it will appeal against the acquittal of accused. "The K-P govt will go into an appeal against all those who have been acquitted," a press release issued by the K-P Home Department said. "We will also file an appeal for extreme punishment of those already awarded [life imprisonment]."

Mashal's family unhappy with ATC verdict

Speaking to the media after the verdict was announced, Mashal's mother expressed dissatisfaction over the acquittal of the accused. "It was a pre-mediated murder," she told reporters during a press conference. "They all had come to kill him, then why are some of them set free?"

"The murder was committed in broad-day light, why are we being denied justice?" she asked.

The victim's mother stressed that the accused should be given exemplary punishment to ensure such an incident is not repeated.

Punjab Law Minister Rana Sanaullah disappointed over verdict

Punjab Law Minister Rana Sanullah expressed his disappointment at the ATC verdict. The Pakistan Muslim League - Nawaz (PML-N) leader said the K-P government's incompetence in investigating and prosecuting the case had aided accused. He claimed that a worker belonging to Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) had been freed during the inquiry process.

Earlier, the parents of the arrested suspects staged a protest outside the anti-terrorism court after being prohibited from entering the courtroom before the verdict was announced.

Mashal Khan murder case: ATC to announce verdict on Feb 7

The ATC in Abbottabad reserved its judgment on January 27 in the Mashal Khan murder case after the hearing of the case was completed.

The Peshawar High Court transferred the case from Mardan to ATC Abbottabad, which heard the case in the Haripur jail, on a request of the victim's father, who had sought the move fearing his "influential adversaries".

The ATC started hearing the case back in September after indictment of 57 arrested suspects which included students and staff members of the varsity. It also rejected bail application of arrested men in the case.

Mashal Khan murder: Defence told to explain stance on shifting case

During the course of the hearing, nearly 50 witnesses were presented before the court and recorded their statements. The prosecution lawyers during the trial presented videos clips as alleged evidence that the arrested suspects were involved in lynching Mashal to death.

The 23-year-old, a student at the Abdul Wali Khan University, was lynched to death by a mob on allegations of blasphemy on April 13 last year. The brutal incident was videotaped sending shockwaves nationwide, as well as, triggering a debate over the misuse of blasphemy laws in Pakistan.

(source: The Express Tribune)


Pakistani Court Convicts 31 Men in Student's Lynching

An anti-terrorism court in Pakistan has sentenced a man to death and 30 others to prison terms ranging from 4 to 25 years for their role in the campus lynching of a university student who was falsely accused of blasphemy. 26 other people were acquitted.

In April 2017, the mob comprising mostly students beat and shot to death 23-year-old journalism student Mashal Khan, who was a student at Abdul Wali Khan University. The fatal attack followed allegations he had shared blasphemous content on social media.

A police investigation later established that the accusations were leveled at Khan after he criticized rising school fees and what he alleged was nepotism in teacher appointments.

A mobile phone video of the lynching attack, which was posted on social media, sparked an outcry in and outside of Pakistan, drawing widespread condemnation and refueling concerns over persistent misuse of the blasphemy laws.

Students, teachers and employees were among the 57 people rounded up with the help of the online video and CCTV footage from the university. Late last year, a court indicted the detainees, although they all pleaded not guilty. 4 others remain at large.

Blasphemy is a highly sensitive issue in Pakistan, where insulting Islam or its Prophet Muhammad can carry the death penalty. No one has ever been executed under blasphemy laws in Pakistan, but mere allegations have provoked dozens of mob lynchings.

Salman Taseer, the governor of the most populous province of Punjab, was assassinated in 2011 by his official bodyguard after calling for the laws to be reformed. Taseer's assassin, Malik Mumtaz Hussain Qadri, was later tried and executed by hanging. Qadri has been hailed as a martyr by religious fundamentalists in Pakistan.

The federal law minister, Zahid Hamid, resigned late last year under pressure from a religiously-motivated rally over allegations he committed blasphemy by trying to alter the electoral oath declaring the Prophet Muhammad as God's final prophet.

(source: Voice of America News)


Death-row Indonesian kingpin ran drug ring from prison: Police

A jailed Indonesian drug lord facing execution ran a meth-and-ecstasy ring from behind bars, police said Thursday (Feb 8), as officials announced his narcotics network had been smashed.

A dozen people were arrested as police said they seized nearly 111kg of methamphetamine and more than 18,000 pills of ecstasy in Aceh and North Sumatra provinces.

Convicted drug kingpin Togiman, also known as Toge, ran the group from prison, despite already having been sentenced to death twice for narcotics trafficking, police said, adding that the ring had links to Malaysian organised crime.

"The mastermind was Togiman," said Sulistiandriatmoko, spokesman for Indonesia's anti-drugs agency.

"He must have had many other accomplices. (The suspects are) probably just the first few that we have caught. We'll investigate this further and coordinate with international anti-narcotics (agencies) if needed."

Togiman, who is in his early 60s, will be charged with drug trafficking, officials said, adding that it would be up to the courts to decide whether he should face another death sentence.

The 12 arrested suspects have been charged with drug trafficking and could face execution or life in prison.

Togiman was already in jail when he was again convicted of drug trafficking and sentenced to death for the 2nd time last year. It is not known when Togiman might be executed

It was also unclear how he was able to operate a criminal network while incarcerated, but corruption-riddled Indonesia's prisons are known for rampant crime.

"50 % of drug trafficking is being done from inside prisons," Budi Waseso, head of the anti-drugs agency, told reporters.

Last year, the government vowed to jail guards caught taking bribes from inmates in exchange for special treatment.

In one of the highest profile cases, a businesswoman jailed for corruption was found with banned items in her cell, including a spring mattress, couch, refrigerator, television and air conditioning.

Indonesia has some of the world's toughest anti-drug laws. Several foreign and Indonesian nationals have been executed by firing squad in recent years for drug trafficking, including Australians Andrew Chan and Myuran Sukumaran in 2015, a case that sparked diplomatic outrage and a call to abolish the penalty.

Indonesia's President Joko Widodo has said the country is facing a "drug emergency" and previously ordered police to shoot drug traffickers who resist arrest.

(source: channelnewsasia.com)


HRW Calls On Iran To Stop Executing Child Offenders

Human Rights Watch has called on Iran to stop executing child offenders after 3 people were put to death in January for crimes they committed as minors.

In a February 7 statement, the New York-based rights group said "Iran should immediately and unconditionally end the use of the death penalty for crimes committed by children under age 18, and move toward a complete ban on capital punishment."

The statement detailed the executions of three Iranian detainees in January.

Amirhossein Pourjafar, aged 18 when he was executed on January 4 in Karaj prison near Tehran, had been sentenced to death on charges that he raped and murdered a 3-year-old girl when he was 16.

The execution of 22-year old Ali Kazemi occurred on January 30 - 7 years after he was convicted of fatally stabbed a man dead in a street fight at the age of 15.

Iranian authorities also executed 20-year-old Mahboubeh Mofidi on January 30.

Mofidi -- a child bride at the age of 13 -- was convicted of murdering her husband when she was 17 years old.

Human Rights Watch said Iran is "1 of only 4 countries known to have executed child offenders since 2013."

It said other countries that have done so include Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, and Yemen.

Amnesty International says at least 90 people have been executed in Iran since 2005 for crimes committed when they were minors.

(source: Human Rights Watch)

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