The Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa Assembly on Tuesday passed the Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa Child Protection and Welfare (Amendment) Act, 2022, seeking either life imprisonment or capital punishment for child abusers.
The draft text of the legislation was approved by the provincial cabinet in December 2021—it had been pending since 2020—after authorities removed a controversial clause requiring the public release of the videos of executions of individuals who had been convicted of sexual assaults against children. While that clause was a demand of some cabinet members, it was eventually removed after the law minister pointed out that it would in violation of the U.N. convention on human rights that Pakistan was a signatory of.
The legislation passed this week was introduced in the House by Law Minister Fazle Shakoor. In addition to seeking either life imprisonment or death sentences for child abuse convicts, it also calls for 14 years’ imprisonment—extendable to 20—for anyone who records child pornography, as well as fines ranging from Rs. 2-5 million.
Under the law, the names of child assault convicts would be displayed on the website of the Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa Child Protection Commission and be listed in Register of Sexual Offenders. “The person whose name is entered or appearing in the Register of Sexual Offenders shall not be employed in any organization relating to or dealing with children in the province,” reads the bill, adding that anyone who provides such employment to a convict would face jail terms of up to 5 years and fines of up to Rs. 10 million. People whose name appears in the Register of Sexual Offenders shall also be prohibited from traveling on public transport, and from entering public places.
The law says that that anyone harassing or blackmailing children with videos would be imprisoned for 10 years, as would anyone who shares such videos. They would also face fines of up to Rs. 2 million.
According to the law, individuals involved in child trafficking would either be sentenced to life imprisonment or could also face 14-20 years behind bars. It says all cases of child sexual abuse would be heard in child protection courts and would have to be completed within 30 days. Both DNA and video evidence can be used by courts in such cases, it adds.
The bill must now be submitted to the provincial governor for assent before it can be implemented into law. However, this process is likely to face delays as the province currently has no governor following the resignation of Shah Farman in April.
In addition to the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Child Protection and Welfare (Amendment) Bill, 2022, the provincial assembly on Tuesday also passed the Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa Antiquities (Amendment) Bill, 2022 and the Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa Occupational Safety and Health Bill, 2022.