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Mukhtaran Mai case: `SC verdict will tarnish country`s image`

LAHORE, April 21: Human rights activists and civil society organizations have expressed great shock and disappointment over a Supreme Court verdict for acquitting all the accused except one convicted in the Mukhtaran Mai gang-rape case.

Former Human Rights Commission of Pakistan chairman Dr Mehdi Hasan termed the verdict an outcome of the police/prosecution failure in establishing its case against the accused persons.

He said the police had miserably failed in collecting evidences against the accused because police officials were not trained to deal with high profile cases.

He pointed out that 98 per cent accused involved even in terrorism cases had been released by courts due to poor investigation.

Dr Hasan said the government must train police on modern ways of investigation so that it could be able to deal with high profile cases.

He said the SC verdict would have a negative impact on society and also tarnish the image of Pakistan in the world.

He said it was very unfortunate that Mukhtaran Mai was ordered to be gang-raped by a local jirga, which reflected that feudal lords still had control in our society. After the SC verdict these feudal lords would become more powerful, he added.

Members of civil society organizations also expressed deep shock and disappointment on the SC verdict.

They said the conviction of one accused proved that Mukhtaran Mai was raped and questioned the acquittal of other accused.

This was stated in a joint statement issued by National Commission on the Status of Women, and members of Insani Huqooq Ittehad, Mehergarh, Aurat Foundation, Rozan, Sungi, Bedari, Ethno Media, Pattan and SPO.

They said the decision was the reflection of a biased and inefficient criminal justice system, adding that the case was a classic example of how facts were distorted and documentation of evidence was tampered.

They expressed fear that this decision might further strengthen anti-women parallel legal and judicial systems and mechanisms in the country.

They said the criminal justice system was not pro-women and impunity was the order of the day.

It was the responsibility of the police to do investigation and come up with the requisite evidence, they said. Currently, methods of recording evidences by police were biased against women and that was one reason that they did not get justice from courts.

Members of civil society organizations stated that the verdict had shaken the confidence and a sense of security of women in Pakistan to stand up for their rights. The outcome of the Mukhtaran Mai case had discouraged survivors of rape, they said.

Source: Dawn

Date:4/22/2011

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