Bribery rampant in police

Pakistan on 29 August 2013
Location : Punjab, Pakistan | Source : Daily Times.

LAHORE: As many as 55 percent of the complainants who went to police stations in select districts of Punjab had to bribe police to get FIRs registered. Furthermore, 92 percent of the complainants said that investigation process was changed despite their requests not to do so.

These facts emerged from a comprehensive baseline survey conducted by an NGO, the Democratic Commission for Human development (DCHD), in three districts of Punjab – Faisalabad, Multan and Rahim Yar Khan. The survey report was launched in the form of a study at a local hotel on Tuesday, with the collaboration of the Foundation Open Society Institute (FOSI).

The report carried striking revelations that pointed towards gaping holes in the criminal justice system of Pakistan. A whopping 57 percent of the complainants said that they were “tortured” during investigation, while 83 percent said that police were abusive and misbehaved with them at the time of arrest. 50 percent of the accused said that their families had bribed the police to escape torture while 72 percent said that their defence statement was not recorded.

A large number of lawyers, civil society activists, police officials and lawyers attended the ceremony where the report was launched. Speaking on the occasion, former Punjab IG Azhar Hasan Nadeem said that the rule of law was absolutely necessary for a fair trial. He said that the goal of the criminal justice system was to prevent the crime and conviction of criminals. He said in a society where extra-judicial killings were encouraged and the corrupt were respected the right to a fair trial would remain elusive. He said that good policing could be done with community policing and by giving political autonomy to police.

The author of the report, Wajahat Masood, said that despite government’s claims to change the ‘thana’ culture, the prevalence of torture in the society was rising. He further said that “we have to strive for social justice in the society”.

He said that the current criminal justice system was based on authoritarian rule. He went on to say that unless the masses were recognised as citizens rather than subjects there could be no improvement.

Lahore High Court Bar Association (LHCBA) President Abid Saqi said that the culture in the sub-continent was of elite nature, which was given by the British.

He said that the transfer of power was purely from one elite segment of society to another. He said that the whole criminal justice system was flawed and it was not based on social justice. He said the entire foundation of the 1861 Act was alien and “we had adopted it”.

DCHD Executive Director Tanveer Jahan explained the path the study had taken over several months.

The selection of sample, the identification of complainants and accused, selection of researchers and later adoption of the research methodology were explained by the director. She further said that they took more than 2,600 interviews with the accused or the complainants so that a large and diverse sample could be adopted.

Tanveer Jahan then went on to brief the participants on the key findings of the study. She highlighted the main findings that pointed towards the violations of the rules conforming to the right to a fair trial. She said that the report found that more than 80 percent women complained that they were forced to stay at the police station overnight. She said more than 40 percent of the accused complained of torture at the police station. She further said that there was a need to press upon the government to move a meaningful legislation to root out the menace of torture.

Foundation Open Society Institute (FOSI) legal consultant Kamran Arif presented an overview of the criminal justice system in Pakistan. Arif said that torture was rampant in police stations across the country and the procedures for a fair trial were not being followed according to the international standards. He said that since Pakistan was a signatory to international conventions against torture, the responsibility of the state to legislate and look into this matter was even greater.

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