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ISLAMABAD: The Senate on Monday blocked a bill proposing public hanging for rape offenders with a majority vote of 24 against 14.

In a rare happening, all the three major political parties, including PML-N, PPP, and PTI joined hands to oppose the motion seeking immediate consideration of Criminal Laws (Amendment) Bill 2023, moved by Senator Mushtaq Ahmad of Jamaat-i-Islami.

PPP Vice President Senator Sherry Rehman was the first to object to the proposal, which aimed to introduce public executions for rapists through amendments to the Pakistan Penal Code (PPC) and Criminal Procedure Code.

“The Peoples Party has always had a principled stance against the death penalty, whether public or private. While the PPP staunchly condemns rape as a heinous and grave crime, calling for the death penalty or public executions, as seen in various countries, has not proven effective in deterring sexual crimes,” she remarked.

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“If public hanging is advocated for one crime, it will be demanded for other offences as well,” she observed.

PML-N leader Senator Irfanul Haq Siddiqui also opposed the proposed legislation and said there were negative impressions about Pakistan related to extremism, violence, oppression, and harassment of women.

He stated that as far as the severity of the crime was concerned, it demanded stringent punishment. However, he differed with Sherry Rehman’s contention regarding the abolition of capital punishment. Senator Siddiqui observed that public hangings would not have a positive and pleasant effect on children and society as a whole.

He was of the view that the proposed legislation would affect Pakistan’s image internationally and promote cruelty.

Leader of the House in the Senate Ishaq Dar also pointed out that capital punishment for the offence was already present in the law and opposed the amendment to the extent of public hanging.

PPP Senator Taj Haider stressed the need to reform the criminal justice and prison system, involving training to reform jail inmates to become responsible citizens. He was of the opinion that respect for humanity can help reform society and noted that public hangings erode respect for humanity.

Barrister Ali Zafar of PTI also opposed the proposed legislation and called for strengthening the investigation and prosecution system.

Tahir Bizenjo of the National Party said there would be no need for executions if the provision of justice was ensured, and root causes of crime were addressed.

Former Minister of State for Parliamentary Affairs Shahadat Awan said public hanging would be against the dignity of man guaranteed under Article 14 of the constitution.

Kamil Ali Agha of PML-Q, however, said capital punishment in the US is implemented by poison injections, which come to public domain when their videos are released.

Senator Humayun Mohmand of PTI supported the amendment, saying that the crime rate in countries that award public hanging sentences for crimes like rape and murder is lower.

Senator Mushtaq Ahmed said the bill would eliminate, not promote, cruelty and barbarism in society. Maulana Daiz of JUI-F also supported the proposed amendment.

Source: Dawn