Pakistan resolution calls for public hanging for child molesters

Pakistan’s parliament passed a resolution Friday calling for the public hanging of convicted child killers and rapists, drawing a quick backlash from human rights organizations. (File/AFP)
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Updated 07 February 2020

Pakistan resolution calls for public hanging for child molesters

  • Though a majority of lawmakers approved the resolution, human rights minister Shireen Mazari stressed it was not sponsored by the government
  • Child sexual abuses are rampant in Pakistan

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan’s parliament passed a resolution Friday calling for the public hanging of convicted child killers and rapists, drawing a quick backlash from human rights organizations.
The non-binding resolution follows a spate of high-profile child sex-abuse cases that have provoked outrage and riots across Pakistan in recent years.
Child killers and rapists “should not only be given the death penalty by hanging, but they should be hanged publicly,” said Ali Muhammad Khan, Pakistan’s parliamentary affairs minister, who presented the resolution in the national assembly, or lower house.
Though a majority of lawmakers approved the resolution, human rights minister Shireen Mazari stressed it was not sponsored by the government.
The resolution “on public hangings was across party lines and not a govt-sponsored resolution but an individual act. Many of us oppose it — our MOHR (human rights ministry) opposes this,” Mazari tweeted.
Child sexual abuses are rampant in Pakistan.
In October 2018, authorities hanged a child rapist in an infamous case in Kasur, near Lahore, that sparked nationwide protests.
In that case, the six-year-old victim, Zainab Fatima Ameen, had been attacked by a 24-year-old man who went on to confess to her rape and murder.
Authorities in Kasur also uncovered a massive paedophilia ring in 2015.
In a scandal that rocked the country, at least 280 children were sexually abused by a gang who blackmailed their parents by threatening to leak the videos.
Amnesty International voiced its concern over Friday’s resolution, while urging Pakistan to focus on better protections against child abuse, including through fair trials without recourse to the death penalty.
“Public hangings are acts of unconscionable cruelty and have no place in a rights-respecting society,” Amnesty said in a statement.
Human rights organizations have long called on Pakistan to reinstate a moratorium on the death penalty, which was lifted after the Army Public School massacre in Peshawar in 2014 that killed 151 people, most of them students.
“There is no empirical evidence to show that public hangings are a deterrent to crime or in protecting the psycho-social well-being of children,” Sarah Belal, executive director of Justice Project Pakistan, a non-profit group campaigning against the death penalty, told AFP.
In March 2016, Pakistan introduced a law criminalizing sexual assault against minors, child pornography and trafficking. Previously, only acts of rape and sodomy were punishable by law.


Over 1 million marooned in Bangladesh as floods worsen

Updated 14 July 2020

Over 1 million marooned in Bangladesh as floods worsen

  • Water levels at major rivers were rising Tuesday at around two dozen points in 20 districts
  • Bangladesh is crisscrossed by 230 rivers, including 53 shared with India

DHAKA, Bangladesh: Heavy flooding is worsening in parts of Bangladesh, with over 1 million villagers marooned or leaving their homes for higher ground along with their cattle and other belongings, officials and volunteers said Tuesday.
Water levels at major rivers were rising Tuesday at around two dozen points in 20 districts. Many new areas in northern, northeastern and central Bangladesh have been affected over last 24 hours, Arifuzzman Bhuiyan, an executive engineer with the Water Development Board, said by phone. Bangladesh has 64 districts.
“The situation is worsening," he said. “The worst thing is that the floods are getting prolonged this year, which is a bad sign.”
Bhuiyan said heavy rainfall and rushing waters from upstream India were the main reasons for the floods in the delta nation of 160 million people, which receives monsoon rains between June and October every year, often leading to flooding.
The floods started late last month, and after briefly easing continued to worsen, affecting many new areas, destroying crops and driving people from their homes in several impoverished regions. Bangladesh is crisscrossed by 230 rivers, including 53 shared with India.
In the northern district of Kurigram, one of the worst-hit areas, thousands of villagers have moved from their homes to higher ground since the weekend, bringing along their cattle and other belongings, said Mizanur Rahman Soikat, project coordinator with the Bidyanondo Foundation, a local charity. The foundation has been distributing both cooked and dry food to the flood-affected villagers, many of whom have lost their crops and livelihood.
Soikat said that over the last few weeks, the charity has distributed food to some 135,000 people in Kurigram, while the government’s relief office was also providing food, cash and cattle food.
“Over last two days, the situation has deteriorated and many villages went underwater in the district," he said by phone. “I have seen thousands taking shelter.”
The International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies said in a statement Monday that more than a million Bangladeshis have been marooned by the floods, with the worst of it happening since the weekend.
“Thousands of people are expected to leave their homes throughout the beginning of this week to seek shelter in higher ground as the Water Development Board warned that the onrush of water from upstream would further intensify,” the statement said.
A.T.M. Akhteruzzman, a relief and rehabilitation officer in the northern district of Rangpur, said about 50,000 people who live along the Teesta River basin have been marooned.
“Waters are coming from India, while heavy rainfalls in the region are causing havoc,” he said. “We are trying to do our best to stand by the people, as we have already provided more than 300 tons of rice, cattle food, baby food and a good amount of cash. Our relief operations will continue."