|By Mr.S Hussain.
March 14, 2009
Police gang rape a teenage boy in custody and distribute
footage on the Internet
The law enforcement community in Pakistan has been shamed once more
by an incident in which three officers arrested a boy, beat and raped
him in custody, and distributed a video of the rape. A year later the
boy is still in remand and the policemen have not been charged.
According to the national manager of the Society for the Protection
of the Rights of the Child (SPARC), Ms Sadia Baloch,
seventeen-year-old Zeeshan Budd was picked up on the evening of
January 17, 2008, between his grandmothers and his parents house in
the jurisdiction of Shah Lateef Town in Punjab. The boy says he had
asked to hitch a ride on a motorbike and had been arrested along with
the driver, who was apparently wanted by the police. Police tell a
different story: that they responded to a complaint about a stolen
bike and mobile phone, and picked up the boy alone.
Ms Baloch says that Zeeshan was not informed of his charges, his
family was not told of his arrest that night and he was neither sent
to a remand home nor appointed a probation officer, which is required
under Pakistans Juvenile Justice System Ordinance. Instead he was
stripped at the police station, beaten and interrogated, during which
the three officers raped him, including Head Constable Arif Sharr and
Constable Mohammad Ashraf. Video of the rape was recorded on an
officers mobile phone. When the police contacted the family the next
day, Zeeshans grandmother Kulsoom Akhter agreed to pay half the
requested bribe -- Rs 50,000 -- so that he wd be released. However the
boy was kept, sent to court and the officers distributed parts of the
video of his rape to internet cafes close to the boys familys home.
The officers actions are a clear and severe violation of child
rights and human rights. They contravene the Constitution of
Pakistan, the Juvenile Justice System Ordinance and the UN
Conventions of the Rights of the Child, which Pakistan ratified in
1990. (Under the Majority Act 1875, a child is defined as a person
under 18 years of age; the voting age is 18 years and the national
identity card is also issued at this age.)
Akhter appeared at her grandsons court case with evidence of his
rape, but a medical check up ordered by the judge was delayed for a
week by the police, reducing the chance of medical evidence being
found. Despite harassment and a smear campaign from police, and
despite being ostracised in their community, Zeeshans relatives
filed petition 601-602 in the Malir Court at the end of 2008,
demanding that an FIR be lodged against the officers. In the meantime
eight cases of robbery were taken against Zeeshan, still in jail,
which his family claims are clumsily fabricated. A judge has ordered
an investigation into his abuse, but the FIR report has yet to be
Since its formation, i have publicised countless violent crimes
committed by Pakistan police officers against detainees and there are
common threads running through them all: they are usually creatively
brutal, the victims young and poor, and the crimes barely covered up;
officers appear confident that their actions will not be called into
question. This can be seen in the case of a 17-year-old girl last
year who was kept offsite by a police station sub-inspector after her
arrest and raped repeatedly and in the case of Hazoor Buksh, who had his penis severed by adrunk officer in 2007 (UA-032-2007before being forced to claim that he did it himself with a brokentea cup in a suicide attempt. Zeeshans case is remarkable only forthe security clearly felt by police when they publicised the torture
themselves on video.
I insists that an FIR be lodged against Zeeshans rapists, and
against the officers in the vicinity of the crime who did nothing to
stop it. A thorough investigation must be launched. The boy must be
released and he and his family offered protection for the duration of
the case, and given appropriate rehabilitation and compensation.
But much more must be done. The many rapes, torture and murders that
happen in police custody in Pakistan must stop. A scrupulous and
unremitting sweep of the policing system is long overdue. Individuals
entering into police custody too often emerge brutally scarred --
emotionally and physically -- and the government must determine how
the situation has become so bad, and what can be done to rectify it.
Officers themselves must be placed under observation, and those
implicated in brutal crimes must be fired, not transferred. A
nation-wide clarification of acceptable interrogation methods is
necessary, and strict re-training is clearly in order.
Without a legitimate police force -- which is often the front line of
the legal process -- a country is weakened and its citizens made
vulnerable. Without law and order, vigilante justice and corruption
thrive; Pakistan has a reputation for both. The fact that children
can be brutally raped by police on camera and still nothing is done,
should be a matter of deep shame.
The authorities need to combat this widely held notion, in and
outside the country, that being a policeman in Pakistan simply gives
you a greater license to commit crime.