Zainab, a beautiful seven-year-old girl, was abducted, raped and murdered on 8th January 2018. Barrister Hassan Khan Niazi and Khadija Siddiqui attended the funeral of Zainab on behalf of Black Law Clinic. Barrister Hassan Khan Niazi with the help of locals of Kasur village identified many cases of child sexual abuse. Blackstone Law Clinic took the initiative to provide legal representation and justice to the victims in 16 cases of child sexual abuse from the 2015 scandal that came out in the national press.
Legal Aid Provided by Law Clinic
The Blackstone Law Clinic is pursuing 16 cases of kidnapping, sexual assault, abuse, rape, child pornography and extortion of money involving children. The First Information Report (FIR) was lodged in 2015. Blackstone Law Clinic is pursuing 8 cases in trial court and is pursuing appeal in 8 cases. The trial court has given its verdict in 4 cases. The Blackstone Law Clinic successfully got an imprisonment of 25 years against the perpetrator in one of the cases. The trial court acquitted suspects in the remaining three cases in the Kasur abuse Child Scandal. However, in one of the cases no Wakalat Nama (retainer) was submitted on behalf of Blackstone Law Clinic. Subsequently, Blackstone Law School Clinic has decided to provide legal representation in this case. Moreover, 4 cases of child abuse are still pending.
Media Press Conference
Accompanied by the residents of the Kasur village, Barrister Hassan Khan Niazi on behalf of the Blackstone Law School Clinic held a press conference on the 31st January, 2018. Firstly, the government stated that cases of child abuse will be registered under Section 7 of the Anti- Terrorism Act, 1997. Secondly, the Government promised to provide conveyance and security to all those children who were pursuing their cases in court. However, the government failed to keep its promises as the government never provided security and conveyance to the children pursuing child abuse cases. The Government also promised to register FIR of the complainants. Hence, the FIR was successfully lodged in these cases. It was highlighted by Barrister Hasan Khan Niazi that the judge colluded with the accused dening justice to the victim. After a detailed investigation it was clarified that the judge had done a free and fair investigation.
The Blackstone Law Clinic at Blackstone School of Law called out for exemplary punishment of the perpetrator. The purpose of seeking exemplary punishment was to impose a harsh punishment and deter other people from committing such crimes in Kasur. The efforts of the Blackstone law clinic were fruitful as one of the prime suspect was convicted by this judgment dated 13-2-2018 for 25 years in jail. We are seeking similar sentences for the accused in the remianing 12 cases.
The Law Clinic at Blackstone School of Law has identified many shortcomings of the legal system which has failed to punish the accused in child sexual abuses. However, it was difficult to identify child sexual abuse as medical examination of the victims were delayed for five years. The victims refused to come forward for evidence as they wanted to protect their family’s honor and their own future. The police also carried out defective investigation which made the conviction of the perpetrator difficult. The police delayed the registration of FIR which had a negative impact on the victim’s case. For example, in one of the cases the victims statement was recorded after eight days. Also, the police have failed to recover extortion money in 31 cases. However, extortion money has been recovered by police in one case only. It was also revealed during the investigation in the trial court that police lack up to date technology to carry out effective investigation. For example, accused faces could not be seen in many videos, only their voices could be heard. These videos were sent to the Punjab Forensic Science Authority (PFSA) for identification of victim’s voices. However, the PFSA does not have any voice recognition technology to carry out a proper investigation. Blackstone Law School clinic has developed an effective strategy to respond to these challenges. For example,
1. We have hired a local investigator who is a local resident who is facilitating us in fact gathering and evidence collection in the local area of Kasur. The investigator is also one of the victims from the child abuse cases.
2. We are trying to exclude from the hearing the testimonies that were previously given by victims under pressure.
3. We are working closely with police authorities to fill the gaps in the evidence.
The Blackstone Law Clinic has taken notice of failure of the other the legal counsel to convict the accused in the 12 cases that were being heard in the local courts in Kasur. Please note these cases are not part of the pool of cases taken up by Blackstone Law Clinic. The accused were acquitted due to no legal representation provided in these cases. According to the victims, the legal counsel in Kasur never appeared at the hearings. Furthermore, the victims also stated that due to the pressure asserted by the perpetrators, the legal counsel in Kasur entered into a compromise to drop the representation of victims. Hence, Blackstone Law Clinic has decided to provide legal representation in these cases.
The Blackstone Law Clinic has made it clear that it will file appeals against acquittals of the perpetrators. We have made it clear that action will be taken against the miscarriages of criminal justice system by mishandling of the evidence, lack of legal representation, and intimidation of the victims. Blackstone Law Clinic will be filling apeals in the Higher Court and aims to overturn all the accquitals.