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Thursday, July 18, 2024

Primary Suspects in Kasur Child-Rape Cases Set Free by LHC

The Lahore High Court's acquittal of three convicts in the Kasur child rape scandal raises concerns about justice for victims and highlights legal challenges in addressing such heinous crimes.

The Lahore High Court (LHC) has acquitted three individuals who were serving life imprisonment in connection with the notorious Kasur child abuse scandal that shook the nation in 2015.

This distressing case unfolded in Hussain Khanwala village, Kasur, where a gang allegedly recorded videos documenting the sexual abuse of over 280 children. The perpetrators exploited these horrifying acts by blackmailing parents, threatening to leak the videos unless ransom payments were made.

A two-member bench, led by Justice Shehram Sarwar Chaudhry, announced the verdict during the hearing of appeals filed by the accused challenging their life sentences. The decision has sparked controversy and concern, especially given the gravity of the crimes and the scale of child abuse involved.

The verdict hinges on the defense argument that forensic examination failed to conclusively identify the convicted individuals from the videos, and certain sections of the Anti-Terrorism Act applied to them were deemed inapplicable.

Legal Grounds and Release of the Accused

The lawyer representing the convicts, Abid Hussain Khichi, stated that a total of six primary suspects were implicated in the case, with three having been released earlier. The remaining three were acquitted based on legal arguments challenging the application of the Anti-Terrorism Act and the forensic evidence’s lack of definitive identification. The awaited official court order is crucial for confirming the reasons behind the release of the accused.

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The Kasur child abuse scandal drew attention to the failure of authorities to act despite pleas from parents, leading to dozens of arrests after clashes between relatives and authorities. The acquittal raises questions about the justice system’s effectiveness and the protection of vulnerable minors in such cases.

Background and Legislative Response

The abuse cases date back to 2009, and in 2018, an anti-terrorism court sentenced the three men — Haseem Amir, Wasim Sindhi, and Aleem Asif — to life in prison in one of the nine cases registered against them.

The cases highlighted the sexual assault, abduction, and blackmailing of families that persisted over several years. The controversy surrounding the recent acquittal underscores the need for a robust legal response and heightened protection for minors in such cases, prompting a reevaluation of existing legislation.

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In response to the Kasur scandal, the Senate passed a bill in March 2016 criminalizing sexual assault against minors, child pornography, and trafficking for the first time. This legislative response aimed to address gaps in the law, particularly regarding crimes against children. The controversial acquittal may reignite public discourse on the efficacy of such legislation and the need for stronger measures to ensure justice in cases of child abuse.