Pakistan considering bringing back public hangings for those who rape or kill children under 14

Pakistan is considering bringing back public executions for criminals who rape or kill children under the age of 14, Pakistan media has reported.

Senate Chairman Raza Rabbani has asked for a report from the Committee of Law and Justice over amendments recommended by the Committee of Interior seeking public hanging of abductors who kill or sexually assault minors.

It comes after the Brutal rape and murder of seven-year-old Zainab Ansari who was kidnapped from her aunts home on January 4 while her parents travelled to Saudi Arabia to perform the ummrah pilgrimage.

Her body was found four days later in a garbage dumpster near where she had been kidnapped in Kasur district.

The suspect, named Imran Arshad, was arrested yesterday and has allegedly confessed to raping and murdering Zainab.

A police district official told Al Jazeera: ‘The suspect’s name is Imran and he lives in the same [area] where Zainab lived.

‘He was arrested before, but was released as we did not have evidence. After that he shaved his beard off so that no one could recognise him.’

The news of his arrest was initially announced by Punjab Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif during a press conference in Lahore yesterday.

Mr Sharif has also asked the Lahore High Court to swiftly deliver a verdict on the case and said he’d support capital punishment. “I want Imran Ali to be hanged publicly … I will request the political parties to support my wish,” he said.

Imran Arshad, who was a neighbour of the family, is also accused of raping and murdering 6 to 7 other girls over the course of two years.

Imran Arshad is accused of raping and killing 7 girls aged between 6 and 7

The public in Pakistan has demanded the suspect be publicly executed and the Committee of Interior has put forward recommendations to the government on the issue.

Chairman of the Standing Committee on the Interior Rehman Malik said an amendment to an existing law had already been approved by his committee and should be put before the senate.

According to Pakistani media sources the amendment to Section 364-A of the Pakistan Penal Code Act 1860 declares that the punishment for kidnapping or raping a child is to be public execution.

The section currently reads: ‘Whoever kidnaps or abducts any person under [the age of fourteen] in order that such person may be murdered or subjected to grievous hurt… or to the lust of any person shall be punished with death.’

The amendment seeks to add ‘by hanging publicly’ after the word ‘death’, according to Malik.

Malik explained that an example should be made out of Zainab’s murderer.

Debating the recommendations, Senator Hasil Bizenjo and Senator Farhatullah Babar strongly opposed the amendments.

“Zainab [rape and murder] incident is unfortunate but the demand for public hanging is also not correct,” Bizenjo said.

“One person was hanged publicly in Lahore during Zia’s era. We should not revert to that,” Babar added. “If the law is amended today, the demands will not stop and calls for hanging everyone will be raised.”