ISLAMABAD: Senator Sherry Rehman’s proposed bill ‘The Torture and Custodial Death’ Prevention, Punishment Bill 2021 was passed by the Senate on Monday. The PPP Parliamentary Leader in the Senate expressed her appreciation to the Minister for Human Rights, Shirin Mazari for providing support to pass the anti-violence bill in the Senate. “I am grateful to the Minister for Human Rights and former Chairman Human Rights Kamini Mustafa Nawaz Khor,” said Sherry Rehman. Session of the Senate began at the Parliament House in Islamabad this afternoon with Chairman Sadiq Sanjrani in the chair. The bill was passed by the Human Rights Committee and is specified to protect the poor and oppressed in the country, stated Sherry Rehman through her Twitter account. Jubilant that Senate unanimously passed my Prevention of Torture and Custodial Death Bill just now. I want to thank all senators including @Mustafa_PPP & Min @ShireenMazari1 for the work they put into this bill with me in Committee.Pakistan finally on way to criminalising torture — SenatorSherryRehman (@sherryrehman) July 12, 2021 She said, “Torture by police remains widespread due to impunity enjoyed by the perpetrators which in turn is fuelled by socio-cultural acceptance of violence, procedural and legal loopholes and lack of independent oversight of the police. The bill defines custody and expressly states that a person shall be deemed to be in custody during search, arrest and seizure proceedings, effectively extending protection against torture to those who are investigated by police officials. Custody also includes “judicial custody and all forms of temporary and permanent restraint”. The Senator stated that there was no law in Pakistan that outlawed violence and inhumane treatment. She added that torture during investigations in police stations is a tragic act. “As a signatory to international treaties, Pakistan has an obligation to criminalize torture but it is shocking that there is currently no existing law in Pakistan which criminalizes or explicitly defines torture. Now this legislation will provide a comprehensive definition of torture, delineating its various constituent elements. This is a substantive law which stipulates express penalties for torture ranging from imprisonment to fine. This is a much-needed law which is long due & will protect the lives & dignity of our people,” she added. “Many people die due to violence in police custody in police stations,” she added. “The bill would criminalize violence at the hands of law enforcement agencies.” The leader added that the law will also provide victims with a way to redress and prosecute criminals, and would enforce the mechanism of accountability for abuse and deaths during detention. Discussing the salient features of the bill, she said, “It defines and criminalises torture, custodial death, custodial sexual violence, and prescribes penalties for it. The Bill also criminalises death of a person ‘directly or indirectly caused by and substantially attributable to acts committed upon the deceased while in custody or after his release from custody’. It explicitly criminalises sexual violence committed in custody, defining the aforementioned as ‘rape’ or sexual abuse’ or ‘any kind of sexual violence on a person…irrespective of the sex and gender of the perpetrator or the victim’. The Senator also highlighted the penalties pertaining to the non-conformity of the bill. “It stipulates express penalties for torture ranging from imprisonment for a term of three to ten years, as well as a fine which may extend to two million rupees. Importantly, it also provides penalties for those public servants who have a duty to prevent the commission of torture and ‘intentionally or negligently’ fail to do so. It also provides penalties for those public servants who incite or instigate the torture of any person”. “Violence is a cruel way to confess, it should stop now,” said Sherry Rehman.