Senate passes bill to prevent torture, custodial deaths

Sherry - The News Today - TNT

ISLAMABAD: Bill moved by Senator Sherry Rehman senior leader of Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) was passed unanimously by Senate and will now go to National Assembly.

PPP Senator Sherry Rehman announced on Monday that the Senate has passed the Prevention of Torture and Custodial Death Bill, putting Pakistan on the course to criminalizing torture.

“Jubilant that Senate unanimously passed my Prevention of Torture and Custodial Death Bill just now,” tweeted the senator minutes after the bill was voted by the Senate.

Rehman thanked all senators, specifically her colleague Mustafa Nawaz Khokhar and Federal Human Rights Minister Shireen Mazari, for the work they put into this bill in the committee meetings.

“Pakistan finally on way to criminalizing torture,” said the senator.

Close to an hour after the passage of the bill, rights organization Amnesty International also welcomed the passage of the bill. It called it an “overdue and encouraging step towards the longstanding campaign to criminalize torture”.

“We urge the National Assembly to prioritise its passage into law, followed by robust implementation in line with the requirements of the UN Convention Against Torture,” urged the watchdog.

The bill was tabled by the PPP senator in February of last year.

The goal of the bill is to define torture and its different uses in Pakistan while aligning domestic law with the UN Convention against Torture and other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (UNCAT), which Pakistan ratified in 2010.

The bill proposes jail terms and fines for public servants responsible for custodial torture, death and sexual violence, with a fine of Rs2 million along with a maximum 10-year sentence for custodial torture and a fine of Rs3 million along with a life imprisonment sentence for custodial death and sexual violence.

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