Published Date: Jan 3, 2012
60 CSOS ENDORSE JOINT DECLARATION DEMANDING CRIMINAL JUSTICE SYSTEM
A joint declaration jointly endorsed by 60 civil society organisations (CSOs) has demanded a criminal justice system that is supportive and sensitive to cases of violence against women.
The criminal justice system of Pakistan is confronted with serious crisis of delayed or no justice, this has had serious repercussions on national and international security and is also one of the major contributing factor in increasing violence against women.
As part of the 16 Days of Activism Women’s Organization for Rights and Development (WORD) in collaboration with PATTAN Development Organization, Women’s Concern Network and Sister’s Trust organized a panel discussion on “Improving the Criminal Justice System Combating Violence against Women.” Around 250 people attended the panel discussions these included human rights activists, trade union representatives, representatives of women belonging to various communities, lawyers, police, representatives from the judiciary, human rights activists, representatives from NGOs, INGOS, trade unions, government, parliament, gender experts, students, teachers and nurses.
The joint declaration signed at the end of the discussion was circulated in media on Monday. The declaration is now ready to be presented to the government, parliamentarians, judiciary, lawyers and police.
The declaration stresses that all laws pertaining to violence against women approved by the government need to be implemented through a coordinated response. It mentions that the law enforcing agencies are generally unaware of the laws and says that the lawyers, police and judiciary members should be briefed about the laws and a process of accountability mechanism should be set up to report every quarter on how cases are dealt at the district, provincial and national levels.
The document expresses concern about the crimes of domestic violence and acid violence committed on women and calls upon the government for immediate legislations against domestic violence and a comprehensive legislation against acid violence that criminalize such heinous acts and provide justice, protection and rehabilitation services to survivors fighting their cases.
It highlights the concerns and complains from the police personnel especially at the Tehsil levels that they lack basic facilities such as, official transport, food, housing, low salaries, long working hours, personal expenditures on food, accommodation, uniform and transport which has created de-motivation in police to register complaints or deal with the law and order situation.
The declaration demands effective police reforms for reporting, investigations, independent and neutral prosecution mechanisms and an unbiased judiciary that is committed to uphold justice at the districts, provincial and national levels.
Recognizing the right and equality to justice for all, it stresses that the cases of violence especially in rural and tribal areas should be dealt through proper courts and not referred to Jirga Systems (parallel judiciary system).
The civil society has also shown concern that some of the laws that protect women from violence approved by the National assembly are either not taken up in the senate or lapsed within the 90 days of the specified time period.
The declaration also urges the civil society to build strong alliances/networks and strategies of advocacy to support survivors fighting for justice against all forms of violence against women and to draw from good practices at national, regional and international levels on effective justice mechanisms.