`New decree in Pak regressive, insensitive to rape victims`
Lahore: Pakistan`s top human rights watchdog on Friday expressed "alarm and disappointment" over a declaration by the Council of Islamic Ideology that DNA tests are not acceptable as primary evidence in determining rape cases.
The Human Rights Commission of Pakistan described the Council`s decision as "regressive" and "unkind to rape victims".
In a statement, the Commission said: "HRCP wants to unequivocally state that the latest pronouncement of the CII is regressive, brings no credit to this body and certainly not to the country, but most important of all it is exceptionally insensitive and unkind to rape victims."
Rape is a "horrendous crime, which is far too common in Pakistan", HRCP said.
"Poor investigation methods and reluctance of witnesses to come forward out of fear mean that the balance is tilted in favour of the rapist as it is. In these circumstances, it would be foolish to not depend on all the evidence that is available, especially something as incontrovertible as DNA test results," the statement said.
"Rather than benefiting from scientific advances through DNA tests, which have proven to be an accurate method for identification, CII suggests discarding that without any prudent reason," it said.
The Council of Islamic Ideology, a constitutional body that advises the Pakistan government, announced on Wednesday that DNA tests cannot be used as primary evidence in rape cases.
DNA can be used as secondary or supporting evidence in rape cases, the Council ruled.
The HRCP has long voiced support for those who find themselves in the dock because of corrupt, inefficient and tardy police and administration of justice systems.
"DNA results, however, have proven to be an irrefutable tool in helping to conclude guilt beyond reasonable doubt. Refuting its importance and much more crucially, suggesting that it is made inadmissible as primary evidence helps the rapist and no one else," the HRCP said.
It further said the Council of Islamic Ideology`s recommendation refuses to take into account the rights of rape victims and the need to punish criminals who are proven guilty beyond doubt.
"Recommendations such as these demonstrate how dangerously conservative and out of touch with the times the CII is today and why there are calls for its abolition, arguing that it is not needed in the presence of parliament, the judiciary and a vibrant media to scrutinise proposed or present legislation," the HRCP said.
"At the very least, the pitiable fact that this entirely uncalled for recommendation did not encounter opposition in the CII is ground enough for urgent reconstitution of the CII in an inclusive manner with wide consultation," it added.
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