Rights Watch | 12th December 2020

A fourteen-year-old girl thwarted her kidnappers on Friday when she raised an alarm in front of a judge in the Rawalpindi Judicial Complex. The girl had been brought to court to record her statement that she had 'willingly eloped' with one of her abductors. For more stories related to human rights concerns, keep reading.

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Girl escapes abductors in Rawalpindi

A fourteen-year-old girl thwarted her kidnappers on Friday, December 11, when she raised alarm in the Rawalpindi Judicial Complex where she was to record her statement that she had “willingly” eloped with one of her abductors.

On November 30, the girl was picked up by three men, Zeeshan, Shafqat, and Umar from her home in Dhalla village at gunpoint. A complaint had been registered against the three suspects under section 365-A (kidnapping or abducting for extorting property, valuable security, etc) of the Pakistan Penal Code (PPC) by the missing girl’s father at the Saddar Barooni police station.

The suspects held the girl captive for twelve days in an unknown location and then took her in court to give a statement that she had run away from home to marry Zeeshan of her free will. The girl agreed to comply, and when presented to the area magistrate began screaming for help, upon which the three suspects immediately fled the building.

The girl was taken into the custody of police and lawyers present at the court, and her family had been notified of her recovery.

Overcrowded prisons raise virus concerns

A report titled Prisoners of the Pandemic – The Right to Health issued by Amnesty International and the Justice Project Pakistan (JPP) has called to attention the alarming risk overcrowded Pakistani prisons pose to inmates during the COVID-19 situation.

The document noted that instead of relieving prison populations, a combination of key court decisions and administrative failure of prison authorities actually increased inmate populations in the early months of the outbreak. This development was contrary to the state’s promises of reducing jail populations to dissuade outbreaks of the potentially fatal disease in such restricted and dense spaces.

The report deplored the lack of any official action to reduce detainment and expediting the legal process for petty offenders, as well as the detainment of scores of people for exercising their rights. In particular, it drew attention to the arrests of healthcare professionals in the initial months of the pandemic who had protested against the shortage of personal protective equipment (PPE) and other essential medical instruments required to properly tend to COVID-19 patients.

The document also censured the curtailing of inmates’ rights during the onset of the contagion. It pointed out that after four months restrictions were eased, prisoners were allowed family visits every fifteen days however they were barred from meeting their lawyers.

Illustrating these concerns is the Kohat jail, which is currently housing over 500 inmates despite its capacity of holding 108 prisoners. The construction of two additional blocks to increase capacity has yet to be completed, while jail employees allege SOPs are not being observed, leaving them as well as the prisoners at risk of a COVID-19 outbreak.

Pir held for raping, filming woman

Muhammadwala police arrested a pir of Addah Kalri village of Chiniot district, Jhang, for raping a woman whose video went viral on social media. The suspect, who hailed from Sargodha, was booked under section 376 (punishment for rape) of the PPC and section 18 of the Motion Pictures Ordinance, 1979.

The complainant, Lumberdar Zubair Ahmad, stated that on the day of the incident he had heard the woman screaming, and upon arriving at the spot, the woman informed him of what had happened before fleeing. The assault took place on November 30.

Although the police were not able to reach the rape survivor, they managed to apprehend the pir who during interrogation revealed that he had assaulted other female clients before. Police are currently on the hunt for the faith healer’s accomplices who had allegedly filmed the November 30 assault and leaked it to social media.

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