- Senator Rehman Malik says SC’s order can’t be violated by hanging convict in public
- Law Minister Virk says public hanging a violation of human rights
ISLAMABAD: Provincial officials and religious leaders on Wednesday rejected the call for the public execution of convicted rapist and murderer of seven-year-old Zainab Amin of Kasur.
The matter of public executions under Pakistani law was discussed by the member of the Senate Standing Committee on Law and Justice in a meeting chaired by Senator Javed Abbasi.
Law Minister Chaudhry Mehmood Bashir Virk, the law secretary, provincial home secretaries, Council of Islamic Ideology (CII)’s representatives, and Punjab and Balochistan Prisons inspectors general also attended the meeting.
Senator Abbasi questioned if the parliament would need to introduce an amendment to the Pakistan Penal Code or whether the addition of a rule would suffice.
“The Supreme Court (SC) had forbidden carrying out public hangings. We cannot violate the Supreme Court’s order by hanging [the convict] in public,” Senator Rehman Malik reminded the committee.
The standing committee was told by the Law Ministry that any moves that are not in accordance with the Constitution must be avoided.
Law Minister Virk, while pointing out that public hanging would be considered a violation of human rights, said: “Emotions aside, steps that are in conflict with the Constitution should be avoided.”
The provincial home secretaries shared the law minister’s concern and said that public hanging could cause the law and order situation to spiral out of control.
Opposing the suggestion to carry out the death sentence in public, the CII said that the execution must be carried out inside a jail, however, they suggested that the sentence could be broadcast on electronic media.
The suggestion was, however, opposed by the Senators from all over the province.
The Balochistan prisons inspector general said that amending the law for the sake of one case would serve no purpose. “We cannot punish the entire society by hanging a person in public,” he insisted.
The standing committee directed the Law Ministry to submit a report clarifying whether a public execution would violate the Constitution and the Supreme Court order, and whether an amendment to the existing law would be required in order to carry out public hangings.
Earlier in the day, the Lahore High Court (LHC) rejected a petition calling for the public execution of the convict, Imran Ali, in the Zainab rape and murder case.
The court disposed of the petition for being premature.
On Feb 17, an anti-terrorism court found Imran Ali guilty of the charges brought against him, and handed him four counts of the death penalty, one life term, a 7-year jail term and Rs 4.1 million in fines.
The four death penalties were for kidnapping, raping and murdering Zainab, and for committing an act of terrorism under Section 7 of the Anti-Terrorism Act.
The life sentence, along with a Rs1 million fine, was handed to Ali for sodomy; another 7-year jail sentence and Rs1 million fine were imposed for disrespecting the dead body by throwing it in a trash heap.
Ali faces further charges in the cases of at least seven other children he attacked — five of whom were murdered — in a spate of assaults that had stoked fears a serial child killer was on the loose. He has confessed to all eight attacks, including the death of Zainab.
The victim girl’s parents had also been demanding public hanging of the convict to bring some curb on such crimes in Pakistan.