By Riazul Haq
ISLAMABAD: Five months have passed since the release of the infamous Kasur child pornography scandal report, but the Punjab government has yet to implement the recommendations to enforce preventive measures and devise a policy to avoid child abuse incidents in future.
It was reported in August 2015 that a gang of 20 to 25 men had filmed as many as 400 videos of sexual abuse involving at least 280 children belonging to Hussain Khan Wala village in Kasur district. Most of these children were believed to be younger than 14 years old.
A joint investigation team (JIT) found flaws in the preventive mechanism at the local level. It also found police and security officials to be ‘desensitised’ to handle such cases, in many of which victims are also believed to be harassed.
The gang suspected of being involved in the scandal was also found to be linked with a dispute over a 12-acre irrigation department property in the village.
Following the incident that shocked the country, the National Commission for Human Rights (NCHR) made some suggestions for the Punjab administration to avert such incidents in future, and also recommended some policy changes at the federal level, but the body’s report seems to have received a lukewarm response at every level.
The NCHR also recommended that the Centre take steps for prompt passage of pending bills relating to child protection. The report mentions the Criminal Laws Amendment Bill 2009, the National Commission on the Rights of Children Bill 2009, and The Charter on the Child Rights Bill 2009. It also suggests that the federal government check flaws in the Police Act 2002.
A few days ago the Senate Subcommittee on Human Rights passed the Criminal Laws (Amendment) Bill pending since 2009. However, little has been done to follow the NCHR recommendations at any level.
The human rights body had asked the Punjab police chief to investigate the “callous ineptitude and criminal negligence in preventing child sexual abuse in Kasur and prosecute all those who were involved and responsible”.
The NCHR stated that it would also monitor the proceedings, and sought a monthly progress report from the provincial chief secretary on the proceedings of the JIT under his command.
“Nevertheless, the Punjab government has not shared details regarding implementation on the recommendations, as we do not know what is the update on policy level changes,” said NCHR Islamabad member Muhammad Shafique.
The commission also suggested that the Punjab prosecutor general appoint experienced prosecutors and his office monitor the proceedings.
Shafique said the Punjab government had yet to implement child protection mechanism at district level, adding that the impact of a child protection bureau established recently had yet to be gauged.
Meanwhile, Nasreen Jalil, chairperson of the Senate panel, suggested inviting the prosecutor general in the next meeting.