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Anti-Torture Bill and Bill for rehabilitation of unattended orphans referred to Joint sitting of Parliament

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Islamabad February 13, 2017: The Senate today unanimously referred to the Joint sitting of Parliament two Private Members Bills one aimed at rehabilitation of unattended orphan children and the other for preventing torture, earlier passed by the Senate but not passed by the National Assembly in the 90-day period.

Both the Bills were moved by PPP Senators; the rehabilitation and welfare of the un-attended orphans children bill was moved by Senator Karim Khwaja and the Anti-torture bill by Senator Farhatullah Babar.

The Anti-Torture Bill prescribes life imprisonment and fine of three million rupees for custodial death or custodial rape and a minimum of 5 years in jail and fine up to one million rupees for torture. Torture has been defined as inflicting physical or mental pain upon another person in custody, for obtaining any information or a confession or harassing and molesting a woman for this purpose.

According to the Bill any statement obtained as a result of torture will be inadmissible as evidence. A state of war, emergency, political instability or an order of a superior authority shall not constitute a defence against torture.

Further, no female shall be detained to extract information regarding the whereabouts of a person accused of any offence. A female can be taken into custody only by a female public servant and not by any male.

Every offence under it is cognizable, non-compoundable and non-bailable. A public servant accused of torture shall prior to initiation of the investigation, be suspended or transferred to a different location. The Sessions Court shall have exclusive jurisdiction to try offences.

Complaints of torture may be filed either with the FIA or before a Session Judge against any person, including a public servant.

Investigation in complaints of torture shall be completed within 14 days.

Trials shall be completed within three weeks. Appeals can be filed before the respective High Court within 10 days and decided in 30 days.

Complaints filed with malafide intent are punishable with imprisonment up to one year or with fine of up to one lac.

The statement of objects and reasons of the Bill says that Pakistan signed the Convention against Torture in 2008 and ratified it in 2010. Enabling legislation was now required to be adopted to reflect the definition and punishment for torture.

The existing provisions in the PPC neither define “torture” nor deem it a criminal offence and it is necessary to adoption domestic legislation, he said.

The statement of objects of un-attended orphans Bill states that the un-attended orphans and children of unknown parentage face many

problems resulting in such children getting involved in crimes and other social evils. The Bill seeks to protect the rights of these children and provision of facilities to and launching for welfare schemes for their rehabilitation.

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