Liaquat Ali

Islamabad: Senator Sherry Rehman on Thursday underscored the Pakistan People’s Party’s position on capital punishment and the public hanging of convicts and took a strong stance against Senator Mushtaq Ahmed’s bill during the deliberations in the Senate Standing Committee on Interior.

She said the PPP strongly opposes public hangings, and public floggings. For more than one reason, she said, preferring life sentences to capital punishments as well where verdicts can be flawed or based on faulty evidence.

Also, she said there is no proven link between deterrence of such crimes and public executions. civilized societies that value rights have largely abolished executions as a means of punishment. With good reason. We may need to add bread to our populations’ diet but not grisly circuses, which only serve to brutalise an already angry and restless population in need of more public tolerance, not bloodlust.

Senator Mushtaq Ahmad introduced proposed amendments to sections 375, 375A, and 376 of the Pakistan Penal Code (PPC) and Schedule-II of the Criminal Procedure Code (Cr. CP). These proposed amendments aim to remove section D and add the provision for public hangings of rapists. Sherry Rehman raised significant questions regarding the effectiveness and ethical implications of the proposed amendments.

She further stated, “For us rape is indeed a heinous crime, for which preventive measures are needed, along with less degradation of women or a reduction in their public life, but public execution is also not a solution. During Zia-ul-Haq’s dictatorship, capital punishment was extensively employed, yet instead of eradicating this crime, it spread barbarism and violence like wildfire in our society.”

Senator Rehman posed a critical question before the committee members, “Has the prevalence of this crime reduced in countries that primarily punish rapists with hanging? General executions do not serve as a deterrent or eliminate the occurrence of rape. Instead, all evidence suggests they exacerbate societal brutality, especially in under-educated classes and areas where women and minorities are marginalised and treated like second class citizens.”

Senator Sherry Rehman expressed a concern that the People’s Party appeared to be the sole voice opposing this law in the standing committee, emphasizing the need for a more comprehensive and educated approach to address the serious and growing issue of rape in society. She concluded, “All the relevant stakeholders, including the Ministry of Human Rights and Foreign Affairs, have opposed the proposed amendments in alignment with international obligations. It is disheartening to see committee members arguing for further brutalization of society. Public hangings will only make citizens more violent, not deterred.”