HRCP rejects bill on honour killing
LAHORE – The Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP) said on October 26, the bill on “honour” killing passed by the National Assembly and bulldozed amid opposition’s objections and absence , could serve only a limited purpose in checking the crime against women.
In their initial reaction to the passage of the bill, HRCP Chairperson Tahir Mohammad Khan and secretary-general Hina Jilani said until the issue of compoundability or “out of court settlements” under the Qisas and Diyat law were addressed, the ground realities would not change. “Women will continue to be murdered and their killers walk away scot-free.”
“The changes in the procedure of the blasphemy law included in the new legislation can do nothing to remove the deficiencies in the law or/and the many cases of victimization under it,” their statement said.
“It is unfortunate too that the contents of the new bill were not discussed and debated in the parliament, or at other public forums. Such a process could have helped generate the social and political consensus that is necessary for any law to succeed. Instead, with the MMA and the PPP both opposing the law, the issue has been made a controversial one and a divide created on a matter of key national importance,” the HRCP office-bearers said.
The HRCP, the statement said, also suspected that the main motive of the government in passing the bill was not to end “honour” killings, but to defeat the bill on crimes against women tabled by the opposition, and to earn marks in the eyes of the international community.
“This means that the commitment required to save women from the terrible violence they face in society remains missing. The bill as such neither addresses objective realities nor meets the demands of women activists,” it said.
CPHD: The Commission for Peace and Human Development (CPHD) also rejected the bill, saying it could have been a good move if it were made in the true spirit to remove the menace of honour killing from society.
“The law should have been made stricter and all loopholes plugged to bring the perpetrators of such crimes against women to justice,” a statement by CPHD said.
It said the bill did not address the real issue of waiver or compounding in which the perpetrators were given the advantage of seeking forgiveness from the heir of the victim. “Enhancement of punishment makes no difference when there is a least possibility of conviction of the perpetrators. The past experiences have shown that 80-90 per cent accused were acquitted under the laws of Qisas and Diyat or awarded a lenient punishment. Most of the time, the murderers were close relatives of the victim and sometimes real brothers or father who were forgiven by the family for the premeditated killings, which contributed to the frequency of this heinous practice. Also some heirs of the victims were forced to accept the payment for the murders under the Diyat law.”
The CPHD said according to official statistics, more than 4,000 people had been killed in the past six years in the name of honour. Thousands of other cases have not been reported with police, and the fact remained that most cases were disposed of on waiver and compounding bases.
It said: “Many couples who married of their own free will had to flee for their lives and many women were raped for honour on the orders of Jirgas and Panchayats. All this has encouraged society to practice this heinous act, and this attitude needs to be dealt with strong and flawless law making.”
The CPHD urged the government and parliamentarians to amend the bill to make it effective, having a clear definition of killing in the name of honour, a mandatory minimum punishment for murderers and the persons or relatives assisting in or instigating for honour killing. It said the state should take the responsibility of registering, investigating and become a complainant and act as “wali” in the cases of killing for honour, and above all, no room for waiver or compounding should be left in the law.