March 15th, 2021
By Baseer Qalandar
A 13-year-old boy from the Safaid Sang Malazai area of Peshawar committed suicide by hanging himself in the lockup of the West Peshawar police station on Sunday, March 14. Seventh-grader Shahzeb was the youngest of two sisters and two brothers.
Shortly after leaving home on Sunday, the boy’s father, Akbar Khayal, received a call from Peshawar’s Gharbi police station informing him that Shahzeb had been arrested for picking a fight with a shopkeeper. Upon reaching the police station, he was informed that his son had committed suicide. Akbar has appealed to the provincial government for justice, while social media users have expressed alarm and dismay over the loss of the young boy’s life.
Questions have arisen as to how a child was able to hang himself from a noose while under the police’s watch, while child protection laws passed by the assemblies are rarely ever implemented. There is also the question of how the police were able to keep a child in detention as it is in violation of the country’s Juvenile Justice Act.
Deputy Speaker of the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Assembly Mahmood Jan stated while legislation for the protection of children and juvenile offenders exists, a severe lack of funds has become a major obstacle in implementing these very laws. Experts working for the protection and rights of children understand that if a minor has committed an offense, then it is imperative to look after the offender’s best interests at that time.
Although orders to constitute a judicial inquiry into Shahzeb’s suicide has been issued, it remains to be seen how much care is taken to ensure compliance with international agreements on juvenile delinquency and justice.