ISLAMABAD: Victims of acid attacks have had fewer reasons to smile especially when they are denied justice.
The Ministry for Law, Justice and Human Rights told the National Assembly on Friday that most of the offenders in the 290 cases of acid violence in the last five years had gone unpunished whereas only two persons have been found guilty by courts.
Responding to questions from MNA Belum Hasnain about the numbers of acid attack cases reported in the last five years and the punishments handed down to offenders, the Ministry for Law, Justice and Human Rights could not provide details of the years 2009, 2010 and 2011, the three years when acid violence was on the rise.
Instead, in its written replies the ministry could only provide details of incidents of acid violence in 2012 and 2013.According to the ministry, 53 cases of acid violence were reported in 2012 in Punjab.
However, only 12 suspects were arrested and cases were still pending.
Similarly in 2013, 13 cases were registered and eight arrested, four are still pending and only one case has been resolved.
The ministry said that in 2009 cases of acid violence rose from 16 to 88 in 2010 and then 91 in 2011.
In the last five years 20 cases of acid violence were reported in Sindh, the only province, where courts have handed down punishments to two convicts acquitting three others. Another ten cases are still pending in the courts.
The picture in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa is no different. Out of the three reported cases only two were registered.
One person has been declared proclaimed offender. And the Ministry of Law, Justice and Human Rights did not have details of the six cases of acid attacks reported in Quetta.
In its written response the Ministry claimed that its regional directorates were making all necessary efforts to control such human rights violations.
It clarified that after the 18th Amendment, Ministry of Women Development was devolved to the provinces.
Cases of acid throwing are reported to the concerned police stations, however, human rights regional directorates under the Ministry of Law, Justice and Human Rights in all provinces also identify violations of such human rights to the authorities concerned.
An official of Acid Survivors Foundation, on the condition of anonymity, explained the reason why offenders in acid violence went scot-free. She said in most of the cases, the parties reach out of court settlement.
Quoting one such instance, she said a man threw acid on his brother in a family dispute but later the two settled the matter outside the court.
“With limited resources and access to courts, women have no choice but return to her children and her abusive husband,” she said.
“Under the Criminal Law 2011, which is quite clear on punishment for offenders of acid violence, the offense is non-bailable and non-compoundable. This means that the parties cannot reach a compromise or settle the issue out of court,” she said.
She explained that the other reason why the offenders not punished was delayed justice.
“The courts take too long to decide a case, which leaves acid victim with no option but to stop pursuing the case,” she added.
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