The Senate’s Functional Committee on Human Rights approved a bill on Tuesday criminalising torture and death of suspects in custody.
According to the Torture and Custodial Death (Prevention and Punishment) Act, 2020, anyone found guilty of torturing someone in custody will be sent to jail for over three years and fined Rs2 million.
On the other hand, harassment or death in custody will lead to a fine of Rs3 million. This will be a non-bailable offense.
The law states that the person responsible for making sure that the crime doesn’t take place will be punished with five years in prison and Rs1 million fine if they are unable to prevent it.
A man will not be permitted to hold a woman suspect in custody.
The court will record the statement of the complainant tortured in custody and then conduct a psychological and physical examination of the person. According to the bill, if the torture is proven then the case will be sent to a sessions court.
The court will be obliged to pass a verdict over the matter within 60 days of the crime. An appeal over that can be made in the high court within 30 days.
The complainant will also be provided security during all court hearings, the law added.
The bill was presented by PPP Senator Sherry Rehman in the Senate. She said that the country “badly needed to curb the often violent abuse in official custody that our vulnerable and non-empowered face”.
Senate HR committee in it’s meeting held today has approved Torture and custodial death bill 2020 presented by @sherryrehman Imp legislation criminalising torture and full filling our treaty obligations under CAT (convention against torture).— Mustafa Nawaz Khokhar (@Mustafa_PPP) July 28, 2020
The law is being lauded on social media, especially by human rights activists.