ISLAMABAD: The Senate Standing Committee on Interior today unanimously adopted a draft anti-torture bill moved by PPP Senator Farhatullah Babar in the upper house in August last year and referred it to the Chairman Senate.
Reporting on the bill, the Interior Ministry said proposals of the bill are ‘fruitful’ and suggested that it may not be opposed.
The bill defines “torture” as inflicting physical or mental pain upon another person in custody, for obtaining any information or a confession or harassing and molesting a woman for this purpose.
The bill prescribes life imprisonment and a fine of Rs3 million for custodial death or custodial rape and a minimum of 5 years in jail and a fine up to Rs1 million for torture. The amount of fine recovered will be paid to the victim.
No female shall be detained to extract information regarding the whereabouts of a person accused of any offence. A female can be taken into custody only by a female public servant and not by any male.
Any statement obtained as a result of torture will be inadmissible as evidence.
Complaints of torture may be filed either with the FIA or before a Session Judge against any person, including a public servant. Investigation in complaints of torture shall be completed within 14 days.
Trials shall be completed within three weeks, while appeals can be filed before the respective High Court within 10 days and decided in 30 days.
Every offence under it is cognisable, non-compoundable and non-bailable. Complaints filed with malafide intent are punishable with imprisonment up to one year or with a fine of up to one lac rupees.
A public servant accused of torture shall prior to initiation of the investigation, be suspended or transferred to a different location.
The Sessions Court shall have exclusive jurisdiction to try offences.
A state of war, emergency, political instability or an order of a superior authority shall not constitute a defence against torture.
The provisions of this act override all other laws and the rules are to be framed by the Federal Government.
Giving rationale for the bill, Senator Farhatullah Babar said that Pakistan signed the Convention against Torture in 2008 and ratified it in 2010.
Enabling legislation was now required to be adopted to reflect the definition and punishment for torture.
Although some provisions relating to the matter exist in the Pakistan Penal Code, they neither define “torture” as clearly as in Article 1 of the said convention, nor deem it a criminal offence as called for by Article 4 of the said convention.
The adoption of domestic legislation in this regard had therefore become necessary.
Furthermore, it is incumbent upon the Federal Government to implement international conventions and treaties by virtue of Items No 3 and 32 of the Federal Legislative List under the Constitution.
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