Government reconstitutes special committee against rape – Pakistan

ISLAMABAD: The federal government has dissolved the special anti-rape committee formed by Pakistan’s previous Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) government and notified a 26-member special committee made up of lawmakers, legal experts, bureaucrats, lawyers and medical experts.

According to the notification, “pursuant to subsection (1) of section 15 of the Anti-Rape (Inquiries and Trials) Act 2021, the Department of Law and Justice is pleased to appoint a special committee” .

Members will serve pro bono or in an honorary capacity, as notified.

Previously, the 40-member special committee notified by the PTI government in December last year was headed by the then Parliamentary Secretary for Law, Barrister Maleeka Ali Bukhari, as its chairman.

According to the new notification, former Senator Ayesha Raza Farooq will chair the committee, which will also include Mehnaz Akbar Aziz, the chief secretaries of Punjab, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, Balochistan and Sindh, representatives of the National Database and Registration Authority ( Nadra), Pakistan. Electronic Media Regulatory Authority (Pemra) and Ministry of Justice, Ex-Punjab Attorney General Ehtisham Qadir, Ex-Additional Inspectors General Kamaluddin Tipu, Taimoor Ali Khan, Attorney Ismat Mehdi, Khalid Parveen, Ambreen Qureshi, Ghazala Yasmeen, Nida Ali and Sharafat Ali, development consultant Valerie Khan, Mohammad Ali Nekokara, Zainab Mustafa, presenter Maria Memon, police surgeon Sumayya Syed and forensic expert Ayesha Sarwar.

The Anti-Rape (Investigations and Trials) Act 2021, recently passed by parliament, aims to establish special courts and use modern devices during the investigation and trial of rape cases. The Special Committee may also issue appropriate directives from time to time to Nadra to prepare a sex offender registry, details of which will only be provided to a court or law enforcement agency.

By law, special courts have been established across the country in consultation with the Chief Justice of Pakistan and can appoint any person as a judge of the special court who is or has been a session judge or judge of additional sessions, or lawyer for a period be at least 10 years old and not more than 70 years old at the time of appointment.

The special court judge has the same powers and jurisdiction as the court of sessions and will be appointed for a three-year term, but may be transferred to another special court in the same province.

Anti-rape crisis cells have been set up throughout the country. Cells are headed by the commissioner or deputy commissioner of the relevant area as deemed appropriate by the prime minister and will also include the chief medical officer of a public hospital and the district policeman or a chief police officer of a division.

Posted in Dawn, July 23, 2022

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