Zainab Murder

Zainab Murder

Zainab’s Murder: Heinous Crimes, Speedy Trial and the Challenge of Procedural Rights

Ali Chughtai

Abstract

In early 2018, a seven-year old girl, Zainab Amin, was raped and murdered in district Kasur, Punjab province, Pakistan. The cold-blooded incident shocked the people across the country. It raised an outcry for speedy ‘justice for Zainab.’ After few weeks of search when the suspect of the crime was arrested, he was tried in an Anti-Terrorism Court, which sentenced him to death. While the sentence was well-deserved, questions arose relating to the criminal procedural aspect of the trial. These questions included the suspect’s confession before trial, the in-camera trial being completed within four consecutive working days, the cross-examination of 56 witnesses, and the paucity of time given to the defence counsel. In this paper I argue that although such heinous offences should be awarded legally warranted punishment, the courts must ensure that the special criminal procedure does not let go the principle of due process. I take Zainab’s case as an example to see whether the principle of due process and procedural rights of the suspect were ensured as required for a fair trial. The paper puts to critical light the chronological facts of the case (as reported in the press) and relies on applied jurisprudence to underscore the potential/danger of letting go the due process and procedural rights in speedy trials.

Key Words: Anti-Terrorism Courts, Child rape, Due Process, Pakistan, Speedy Trials.

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