LAHORE: AIG Hussain Habib Imtiaz Gill said on Monday that incidence of ‘honour’ killing had come down in Lahore and Rawalpindi districts in recent years but it had shot up in Faisalabad and Rajanpur districts.
He suggested that courts authorised to hold speedy trials could be set up to tackle cases of honour killings.
The AIG also shared demonstrative statistics on convictions in murder trials. He said statistically speaking the trial of one in four murder cases registered across the country was likely to end up in a conviction.
He was speaking at a consultation arranged by the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP) on Honour, Law, Rights and Wrongs: Searching for a Way Forward.
Other speakers at the event said that because they held similar views on ‘honour’ many police officials were biased in favour of the accused in honour-related crimes. Activist Sarah Shahzad suggested that the representation of women in positions of power in the judiciary and the police needed to improve.
On addressing various social issues related to ‘honour’ killings, the prevalent opinion was that change was needed at the grassroots level. Most speakers said that parents needed to inculcate egalitarian values in their children. Some of them sought reforms in curricula taught at schools. A woman reporter stressed the need to raise awareness on laws on ‘honour’ killing. She said news reports could be more effective than editorial pieces in enabling men in positions of authority to better understand such issues from women’s perspective.
One of the recommendations was that courts be authorised to finalise trials in honour killings before letting legal heirs of the deceased strike a compromise with the accused. The state could, therefore, fulfil its responsibility of dispensing justice before the legal heir could possibility tamper with the judgement, the speakers said.
In his concluding remarks, IA Rehman of the HRCP said that the fight for women’s rights was not an easy one but it must be fought. “Progress is slow but it is still happening. The HRCP has been recommending for 12 years that a woman be appointed as a member of the Election Commission of Pakistan. The government has just recently appointed one.”
Earlier, speakers highlighted various aspects of laws dealing with ‘honour’ killings, particularly Sections 308 (punishment in qatl-i-amd not liable to qisas) and 311 (ta’zir after waiver or compounding of right of qisas in qatl-i-amd) of the Pakistan Penal Code. Under Section 311 of the PPC, an honour killing has been declared as Fisad-fil-Arz (threat to social order) and is liable to punishment with a prison term that cannot be less than 10 years.
Some of the speakers also referred to Section 338-E (waiver or compounding of offences) of the PPC and said that any waiver or compounding of such an offence was subject to conditions imposed by the court, with consent of the parties concerned. They said this meant that the court had the discretion to punish an offender against whom the right of ‘qisas’ had been waived or compounded. “The courts choose to ignore this and do not punish the offender if a compromise has been reached,” said Advocate Asad Jamal.
Advocate Azam Nazeer Tarar held that the courts usually did not punish offenders in such situations because trial judges were required to meet targets set for disposal of cases in a month. Failure to meet the targets impacts their careers, he added.
Other lawyers and officials from the Prosecution Department present on the occasion said that undue reliance on the FIR and witnesses’ testimony could affect honour killing trials. They said the impact was magnified by judge’s failure to pay proper attention to police investigations.