What The Law Says About Custodial Torture and Death
Torture in custody is a serious problem plaguing the justice system in Pakistan. Police officials commonly use torture to obtain confession statements or evidence from suspects. Let us look at what the law in Pakistan says about torture in police custody.
Pakistan signed the UN Convention against Torture and other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (UNCAT) on April 2008, and ratified it in June 2010. It is important to note that the convention was adopted by the United Nations in 1984. It took the country two decades to sign and ratify the convention.
According to the Constitution of Pakistan, torture in custody is prohibited. Article 14(2) of the constitution states, “No person shall be subjected to torture for the purpose of extracting evidence.”
Moreover, section 337-K of the Pakistan Penal Code also prohibits causing hurt to someone for the purpose of extracting confession in order to detect offence or misconduct. The offence is punishable with up to 10 years of imprisonment.
In August of 2002, the government issued Police Order 2002, which replaced the Police Act of 1961. One of the sections of the order, 156(d), stated that a police officer who inflicted torture or violence on any person in his custody shall on conviction be punished with imprisonment up to five years and a fine.
Furthermore, the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Police Order 2002, was replaced with The Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Police Act, 2017. Section 119 (d) of the act states that a police officer who inflicts torture or violence on any person in his custody shall on conviction be punished with up to five years of imprisonment with fine.
In March 2015, the Senate of Pakistan proposed the Torture, Custodial Death and Custodial Rape (Prevention and Punishment) Act, 2015. The bill, proposed by Senator Farhatullah Babar, was however not passed by the National Assembly in the given 90 days.
The proposed law envisaged punishment from five to ten years with a fine of up to Rs1 million. Moreover, any public servant who failed to prevent the commission of torture would be punished with imprisonment from three to five years with fine up to Rs500,000.
The proposed law also recommended life imprisonment with fine of up to Rs3 million for the offences of custodial death or custodial rape.
This year, Human Rights Minister Shireen Mazari had said that the bill introduced by Senator Farhatullah Babar would be retabled but no headway has been made in this regard.