December 2nd, 2020
By Ahmad Saeed
Former federal minister for law and PTI leader Ali Zafar has stated that through the new amendments in anti-rape laws, the federal government has tried to fill in all the legal and procedural lacunae which hinder a fair investigation and speedy trial of rape cases.
He was speaking at Voicepk.net’s show regarding this new piece of legislation along with Nida Aly, the executive director of the Asma Jahangir Legal Aid Cell (AGHS), and Omer Bashir Maniar who is Deputy Provincial Team Lead, Punjab at Justice System Support Program.
Zafar is also a member of the committee which has finalized the Anti-Rape (Investigation and Trial) Ordinance 2020 and the Criminal Law (Amendment) Ordinance 2020.
According to Zafar, the salient features of these legislations include the establishment of special courts for speedy trials, creation of Anti-rape Crisis Cells for prompt registration of the FIR, medical examination and forensic analysis, etc.
The new legislation also proposed the voluntary chemical castration of a repeat offender and maintenance of data of sex offenders.
The committee also proposed an amendment in Section 375 of the PPC to broaden the existing definition of rape to include men and the transgender community in it.
Ms. Aly, whose organization has vast experience in providing free legal aid to rape and sexual assault victims, says that she welcomes these new legislations and has no doubts about the goodwill of the government but the real problem lies in the implementation of these new and existing laws.
“The problems we face are mostly related to the police and investigation and at the trial stage,” she said. “Our issues lie in the implementation of these laws instead of enacting new laws.” She hopes that this time the government will also work on reforming the police, investigation process and prosecution, and judiciary.
Zafar agrees that the training of the police and law enforcement people is the key to the meaningful implementation of these laws. He says that he will propose the formation of a monitoring body to oversee the impact and implementation of the proposed changes in the law.
“During the meetings to finalize these new laws, we also contemplated introducing a section in law to penalize those investigating agencies or cells who do not fulfil their duties in accordance with the law,” he said. “The suggestion has not been included in the current draft but maybe we can legislate it some other time.”
According to Zafar, both ordinances will be promulgated in the first week of December 2020.
Some political parties and rights groups have criticized the government for bypassing parliament and doing legislation through ordinances.
Zafar admitted that legislations should be done through parliament and the draft should be tabled before parliament for a meaningful debate so that suggestions from every political party can be included in the final draft.
“A lot of cases of sexual offenses have been reporting in the press after the motorway gang rape case, so it was necessary to convey a message to the public that the government is serious about this issue and wants to immediately enact the new laws. But after the expiry period of the ordinance, the new legislation will go to parliament for debate and approval”, he added.
According to Article 89 of the Constitution, an ordinance shall stand repealed after 120 days from its date of promulgation.