By: INAMULLAH KHATTAK
ISLAMABAD – The National Assembly Thursday passed the Criminal Law (Amendment) Bill, 2015 aimed at protecting children from cruel treatment.
The salient features if the proposed Act included the minimum age of criminal responsibility has been raised from seven to 10 years and the upper age limit from 12-14 years, protection of children from cruel treatment, criminalises child pornography and proposes punishments.
The act of exposing children to obscene material has been criminalised with punishment. The law will also provide punishment for internal trafficking of humans. Minister for Law and Justice Pervaiz Rashid piloted the Bill to amend the Pakistan Penal Code, 1860 and the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1898 in the House.
Dr Shireen Mazari, Dr Nafeesa Shah, Shahzia Marri and Dr Azra Fazal said the upper age limit should be revisited and it should be 16 years instead of 14 years.
Mehmood Khan Achakazi was of the view that “we must be vigilant while passing such legislation.” He suggested that any abuse to any age should be incorporated. The grownup may also face such ugly situation, he added.
Pervaiz Rashid said the Bill was unanimously passed by the standing committee after thorough deliberations. Every party has representation in the committee, he said and added that the Bill should be passed.
He pointed there was already law to punish children aged above 16 years.
The minister said the Bill would help protect the children against any cruel act. New sections 292 A, 292 B and 292 C, 328 A, 369 A, 377 A and 377 B had been incorporated in Pakistan Penal Code, 1860.
The statement and object of the Bill says that the amendments in the Pakistan Penal Code and Code of Criminal Procedure have been proposed while keeping in mind the international obligations and domestic realities. Pakistan ratified the United Nation’s Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC) in 1990 and is under obligation to implement its provision by harmonising polices, legislations, programmes, plans of action with it and report progress to the UN committee on the Rights of the Child, Geneva after every five years. To undertake this task, existing laws are required to be harmonised with the UNCRC to effectively initiate requisite actions for meeting the standards set forth under the UNCRC.
The provisions provided in the criminal law statutes fail to cover number of very serious offence against the person or a child like; child pornography, exposure to seduction, abuse, cruelty to a child and trafficking in human beings within Pakistan.