KARACHI - A committee comprising retired judges, lawyers and civil society members prepared a draft law, suggesting the government not to make compoundable the killing occurred on the pretext of honour killing.
Justice (r) Shaiq Usmani, Justice (r) Majida Rizvi, former chairperson National Commission of the Status of Women, Iqbal Haider, Senior Advocate Supreme Court, Niaz Ahmed Siddiqui, former IG Sindh, Tauqeer Fatima, Minister, Women Development, Shahla Raza, Deputy Speaker, Provincial Assembly Sindh, Mehnaz Rehman, Resident Director Aurat Foundation Karachi, Maliha Zia Legal & Gender Consultant Aurat Foundation and Rubina Brochi, Regional Coordinator Legislative Watch Programme of Aurat Foundation spoke on the different aspect of law.
After discussion, the participants approved and recommended amendments in the Criminal Law (Amendment) Act, 2004, the law relating to honour killings.
Justice (r) Majida Rizvi said that the original honour killings law drafted prior to 2004 by civil society incorporated all these amendments in it but the government bill did not go far enough to provide real and actual change, leaving out some of the most significant aspects. Alongside this, the courts have also manipulated the already weak law in favour of the perpetrators. For example, they do not indict jirgas and panchayats, illegal parallel systems who mete out punishments such as honour killings. She also shared that whole the 2004 law did remove the provision of ‘grave and sudden of provocation’ from the law, the judges have managed to bring it back into the case decisions, thereby also further misusing the law. This also goes to show the weakness of the law.
Justice (r) Shaiq Usmani made the presentation on the recommended amendments. He stated at the beginning that honour crimes go beyond just murder and are horrific offences committed in the name of culture. The main emphasis of the amendments focused on the division of the incidents of honour killings from honour crimes; a more details definition of honour killings and the inclusion of the definition of honour crimes; making incidents of honour crimes and honour killings non-compoundable; and ensuring that the courts take notice of the facts and evidence of the case before allowing compromise.
Iqbal Haider, senior advocate, also supported the passage of this law. He stated that while there is a lot of work to be done, especially with regards to the implementation side of the law, it is necessary to also focus on the making sure the law is correct in the first place. He also noted that the amendments to the 2004 law will be a federal law, but the provincial assemblies must focus on putting pressure upon the government in Islamabad to push forward these amendments. Niaz Ahmed Siddiqui, former IG Sindh, welcomed the amendments of the law, stating that honour killing is the most heinous of crimes and must be dealt with accordingly. He shared that the police will leave no stone unturned to ensure that investigations are done properly and according to law in order to ensure all perpetrators and those involved will be punished.
He noted that in honour killing cases are often cases where all parties, including the perpetrator, the wali and the witnesses are all involved in the crime and all protect each other. He stated that the police was committed to improve the role of the police and to work towards ensuring the end of honour crimes and killings across Pakistan.
Tauqeer Fatima, Minister, Women’s Development appreciated the efforts of Aurat Foundation on this matter. She noted that incidents of honour killings have increased in number and being reported more and more every day. She stated that the Ministry of Women’s Development and the all the MPAs and representatives of the Provincial Assembly, including herself committed to eliminating this menace from our society and would give their support in advocating to the Federal Government to enact these recommendations.
Shahla Raza, Deputy Speaker of the Sindh Provincial Assembly gave her full support to the cause. She stated that resolutions had been passed in the Sindh Assembly stating that honour killing is murder and should be given no excuses or justifications.
She also committed that after the budget session, a domestic violence bill will also be passed by the Sindh Provincial Assembly.
Civil society representation includes Kausar Khan, Sarah Zaman, Ayesha Khan, Hilda Saeed and Nilofer Farrukh. Government Departments also sent representatives from the Home Department, Women’s Development Department, Social Welfare, Labour Department and police.