Lacunas in ‘honour' killings bill: Citizens' body -Pakistan Press Foundation (PPF)

Paksitan Press Foundtion

Lacunas in ‘honour’ killings bill: Citizens’ body

ISLAMABAD – A citizens group working against ‘honour’ killings has welcomed the passage of a bill on ‘honour’ killings by the National Assembly on October 26.

In a statement issued in Islamabad on October 26, the Citizens’ Action Group Against ‘Honour’ Killings (CAGAHK) said it is the first time that the National Assembly has even acknowledged the existence of this barbaric practice and our longstanding demands to address the plight of those thousands of Pakistanis, who have been and continue to be killed in the customs of Karo-kari, Siyah-kari, Kala-kali.

It said the vast majority of the victims were rural women. The statement also commended the definition of ‘honour’ killing, recognizing it as murder, the removal of the status of “wali” from a person accused of committing the crime and the inclusion of a minimum punishment.

The citizen body also welcomed the recognition of “badal-i- sulah” as a punishable crime. The group, however, voiced concern over what they called as missing of several of their demands or distortion in the legislation.

The group pointed out lacunas in the bill and said it fails to remove the provision for compoundability through compromise and waiver of Qisas, thus laying the door open to ‘muafinamas’ and ‘raazinamas’, as the perpetrators are most often also the heirs and close relatives of the victims.

It negates our demand that the state should assume the role of Wali in cases of ‘honour’ killings, the statement added.

The citizens group criticized the process adopted in the passage of the bill and said such an important bill was bulldozed through without adequate debate, in the absence of the entire opposition.

The group called upon the senators, who will subsequently review and pass the bill, to address the above lacunas, especially the core issue of compoundability, without which this bill will remain just a cosmetic measure.

They maintained that it was imperative that the Senate followed the democratic norms and procedures of debate and amendments to this bill from both the ruling as well as opposition benches.

PML: Senior Vice-President of Pakistan Muslim League’s women wing Yaqoot Jameelur Rehman on Tuesday congratulated the government and President Gen Pervez Musharraf on the passing of the bill against honour killing by the National Assembly.

Talking to Dawn, Ms. Rehman said it was the happiest day for the country’s women, who were being killed and exploited in the name of honour. By increasing the punishment for those who killed women in the name of honour, and terming honour killing murder, the bill, after its implementation, would check the atrocities committed on women, she observed.

She also appreciated the recognition of “Badla-i-Sulah” as punishable crime, and removal of the status of “Wali” for persons accused of committing the crime under the bill.

The government, she said, had accomplished what the previous two governments had failed to do. President Musharraf, she said, had taken some historic steps for ensuring human rights, including women rights, in the country by introducing and amending various laws, and the bill was yet another step in the same direction.

Mr. Rehman said the passage of the bill was made possible only after the hard work done by the adviser to the Prime Minister on women development, Nelofar Bakhtiar, and Mehnaz Rafi of the Standing Committee on Women Affairs.

Source: Dawn

Date:10/27/2004