Pakistan’s parliament passed a resolution Friday that calls for the public hanging of convicted child killers and rapists.
AFP reports that the resolution, which is non-binding, comes after a number of high-profile child sex-abuse cases have scandalized the South Asian nation in recent years, leading to major outbreaks of unrest and riots.
Parliamentary affairs minister Ali Muhammad Khan, who presented the resolution in the lower house of the legislature, said that child killers and rapists “should not only be given the death penalty by hanging, but they should be hanged publicly.”
“The Quran commands us that a murderer should be hanged,” the minister added.
While the resolution was swiftly passed by a majority of lawmakers, human rights minister Shireen Mazari has emphatically stated that it does not enjoy the backing of the government.
In a tweet, Mazari wrote:
“The resolution passed in [the National Assembly] today on public hangings was across party lines and not a govt-sponsored resolution but an individual act. Many of us oppose it – our [Ministry of Human Rights] strongly opposes this. Unfortunately I was in a mtg and wasn’t able to go to NA.”
Federal Minister for Science and Technology Fawad Chaudhry also condemned the passage of the resolution.
“Strongly condemn this resolution. This is just another grave act in line with brutal civilisation practices [sic]. Societies [should] act in a balanced way, [barbarity] is not an answer to crimes. This is another expression of extremism.”
However, Pakistan has struggled to come to grips with rampant crimes of child sexual abuse.
A child rapist was hanged in October 2018 after his crime in Kasur, near Lahore, sparked days of nationwide protests and unrest.
Six-year-old victim Zainab Fatima Ameen was attacked by a 24-year-old man who later confessed to raping and murdering the young girl.
In 2015, authorities busted a huge paedophilia ring in Kasur. In the massive scandal, it was found that at least 280 children were being sexually abused by a gang who blackmailed parents with threats to publicly release the videos.
In March 2016, Pakistan criminalized sexual assault against minors, child pornography and trafficking. Only acts of rape and sodomy had previously been punishable by law.
Human rights NGO Amnesty International also condemned the recent passage of the bill by the lower house of parliament, with AI Deputy South Asia Director Omar Waraich noting that “public hangings are acts of unconscionable cruelty” with no place in a society that respects people’s rights.
Continuing, the advocate said:
“Executions, whether public or private, do not deliver justice. They are acts of vengeance and there is no evidence that they serve as a uniquely effective deterrent.”
A number of human rights groups have demanded that the country reinstate a moratorium on the death penalty. Capital punishment was reintroduced following the 2015 Army Public School massacre that claimed the lives of 151 people.
Sarah Belal, the executive director of anti-death penalty group Justice Project Pakistan, told AFP:
“There is no empirical evidence to show that public hangings are a deterrent to crime or in protecting the psycho-social well-being of children.”