March 27th, 2021
By Rehan Piracha
A broad government-appointed panel has held its first meeting in Islamabad to discuss measures for effective implementation of the ordinance on rape investigation in order to improve dismal conviction rates in cases of sexual offences in the country.
The panel will also suggest recommendations for a draft bill to replace the Anti-Rape (Investigation and Trial) Ordinance, 2021, set to lapse next month. The Ministry of Law and Justice had constituted a 42-member special committee for the implementation of Anti-Rape (Investigation and Trial) Ordinance, 2021, headed by Parliamentary Secretary for Law and Justice, Barrister Maleeka Bokhari.
The panel comprised government officials, doctors, women rights activists, lawyers, police, media persons and lawyers from across the provinces.
The first meeting of the committee was convened in Islamabad on Friday, March 26. According to the PTI official website, preliminary matters pertaining to implementation of the provisions of the Anti-Rape Ordinance including drafting of various guidelines came under discussion in the meeting. Under the ordinance, the special committee is to submit recommendations for rules that will incorporate guidelines for medico-legal examination of the victims, investigation and prosecution of offences, collection and gathering of evidence, rehabilitation, gender sensitization and training.
The anti-rape law implementation committee is a great step forward for ensuring access to justice for women and girls who are victims of rape and other sexual crimes, Bokhari told Voicepk.net. The committee has been formed from a broad body of experts including lawyers, activists and federal and provincial government departments, she said.
“The committee will ensure that all the loopholes including delay in registration of first investigation reports(FIRs), defective investigation and medico legal examination are removed,” she said, adding that expeditious delivery of justice to rape victims is an urgent and important priority of the government.
Talking about the broad composition of the committee, Bokhari said the civil society, lawyers and the government have joined hands to fight vilification of the rights of women and girls.
“The women and girls of Pakistan need justice immediately and delay is no longer an acceptable position,” she said. The committee will be meeting on a daily basis to prioritise implementation of the anti-rape laws, she added.
Law ministry officials shared the draft of the Anti-Rape Ordinance with committee members and informed them about the role of the special committee constituted under Section 19 of the ordinance, Nida Aly, Executive Director of Asma Jahangir Legal Aid Cell, one of the members of the committee, told Voicepk.net. The participants discussed various legal lacunas in the implementation of the anti-rape laws, she added.
“Participants spoke about issues relating to the role of police, DNA forensic evidence gathering, and accountability mechanism of all actors in the criminal justice system,” Aly said.
The other committee members include Justice (r) Nasira Iqbal, Parliamentary Secretary for Law and Justice, Amna Baig, Police Service of Pakistan, Fareeha Idris, anchorperson, Barrister Muhammad Pansota, Barrister Ambreen Qureshi, Barrister Taimur Malik, Valerie Khan, Executive Director GDP, Sharafat Ali Chaudry, Dr Khadija Tahir, trauma specialist, Dr Summaiya Syed Tariq, Additional Police Surgeon, Nida Usman Chaudhary, Founder WIL, Abuzar Salman Khan Niazi, Mehwish Muhib Kakakhel, Sindh Chapter Lead WIL, Barrister Zahoor Ahmad, Legislative Advisor, Ministry of Law, Hassan Mehmood, Deputy Legislative Advisor, Ministry of Law, and Barrister Ambreen Abbasi, representative of Ministry of Law.