Pakistan: Protect 16-year-old Gang Rape Victim and Ensure Justice in her Case
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|Uzma and child|
Equality Now is deeply concerned for the safety of 16 year old Uzma Ayub from Karak in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province in Pakistan. Uzma was kidnapped in 2010 and held for a year during which she was repeatedly gang raped by a number of individuals allegedly including police officers and a civilian member of the Pakistani Army. Uzma is currently 8 months pregnant as a result of the rapes. On 9 December 2011, Uzma and her 25 year old brother, who had been supporting her efforts for justice, were attacked outside the Karak court house. Uzma’s brother, Alamzeb Marwat, was brutally shot dead. Despite Uzma’s younger brother witnessing the attack and naming those involved as relatives of some of the accused police officers, the senior investigating police officer refused to take action suggesting that it was difficult to ascertain who carried out the fatal attack. Following pressure from the media and local human rights groups, 5 men have now been arrested with one still at large.
A year ago, on 24 December 2010, police officers entered Uzma’s home on the pretext of looking for her brother in connection with a minor incident. Her brother was not at home at the time and they took Uzma with them. Uzma has stated that she was then handed over to some men waiting outside who took her to a house. She says that a man called Dr Iqbal came to her and administered an injection after which she fell unconscious. When she woke she found herself in a new location. Uzma alleges that the son of an army officer named Naseebullah tried to force Uzma to marry him. Following her refusal, Uzma claims that Naseebullah came to the house and raped her. She has stated that she was then raped by a number of men including at least two police officers, one of whom was called Hakeem. She was able to give details of distinguishing features and marks on the bodies of some of the accused. On 19 September 2011, Uzma managed to escape while being transferred to a car by two men to whom she was sold by her kidnappers.
Uzma and her family are trying to fight for justice despite alleged police corruption and threats from local fundamentalists. It is alleged that Dr Iqbal and Sub-Inspector Hakeem are involved in illegal businesses and regularly bribe local police to turn a blind eye. Initially the police refused to register a case against any of the accused and it was not until local human rights organisations and the media brought attention to the case that the district court ordered the arrest of some of the accused. However, the Karak District court judge sanctioned pre-arrest bail for all those arrested. Following outcry over the decision, on 3 December the judge revoked the bail before arrest applications for the accused: Inspector Mohsin Shah, Sub-Inspector Ameer Khan, Assistant Sub-Inspector Hakeem Khan, Qamar Ali and Karim Khan.
Currently the case is adjourned as some of the accused requested an out of court settlement with Uzma and her family. According to local sources, on 6 December 30-40 elders from the area came to see the family and informed them that Hakeem Khan, Mohsin Shah and Ameer Khan had confessed to the crime and would like to settle matters privately. Uzma has made it clear that she would not be willing to settle out of court and wants justice in her case. Reports describe how on 9 December Uzma and her brother Alamzeb went to the district court in Karak for some documents. Here relatives of some of the accused police officers once again reportedly tried to pressure Alamzeb into accepting a settlement which he refused. Uzma’s younger brother who was also present has stated that as Alamzeb was about to leave he was hit by a car. He tried to run away but the driver of one the accused officers held him while Sub-Inspector Hakeem Khan’s brother allegedly shot Alamzeb in the head and chest, killing him.
Equality Now has been informed that police officers have been putting pressure on members of the local community and encouraging fundamentalists in the area to demonstrate against the arrests of the accused. Demonstrations have been carried out against Uzma accusing her of dishonouring her community and carrying an illegitimate child which they say should be aborted and against local human rights organisations- Pakhtunkhwa Civil Society Network, the Violence Against Women Watch Group (KP) and the End Violence Against Women Group Alliance KP/FATA, who have been assisting Uzma. Staff members of the organisations have also been receiving death threats for their involvement in the case.
On 15 December 2011 the Peshawar High Court issued a notice to constitute a high level member committee to investigate the case, however local human rights groups have little trust in procedures being followed as eight days after a previous committee recommended steps be taken to correct flaws in the rape investigation Uzma’s brother was murdered on the steps of the court.
Among other international human rights treaties, Pakistan is a signatory to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights under which “all persons are equal before the law and are entitled without any discrimination to the equal protection of the law.” Pakistan’s own Constitution states under Article 25 that “(1) All citizens are equal before law and are entitled for equal protection of law. (2) There shall be no discrimination on the basis of sex alone.” That the very people who should be upholding the law appear to be the ones breaching it makes it all the more difficult for victims to obtain justice.
Please write urgently to the officials below calling on them to ensure Uzma and her family’s immediate safety. Ask them to make certain that her case is fully and properly investigated and that all the perpetrators involved, including those who may have obstructed justice, are prosecuted to the full extent of the law, in accordance with Pakistan’s own Constitution and international obligations. Similarly call on them to ensure that all those responsible for the murder of Uzma’s brother Alamzeb are swiftly and properly brought to justice and prosecuted. Ask that local organisations under threat are protected and any threats against them investigated and appropriately prosecuted. Request guarantees that the authorities will send clear messages that such criminal actions, particularly by those who should be upholding the law, will not be tolerated.
Mr. Amir Haider Hoti
Chief Minister Khyber Pakhtunkhwa
Chief Minister House
Tel: +92-91-9213574, +92-91- 9211719
Fax: +92-91-9210718, +92-91-9210743
Barrister Arshad Abdullah
Minister for Law & Parliamentary Affairs
Government of Khyber Pakhtoonkhwa
Minister Block Opposite to MPA Hostel
Peshawar, Khyber Pakhtoonkhwa
Mr. Syed Yousuf Raza Gillani
Prime Minister of the Islamic Republic of Pakistan
The Prime Minister’s Secretariat
Tel: +92 51 920 6111
Fax: +92 51 922 1596
Mr. Moula Bakhsh Chandio
Minister for Law, Justice
and Parliamentary Affairs
Ministry of Law, Justice
and Parliamentary Affairs
UPDATE 11 February 2013: Following the remand of the case from the High Court, on 31 January the lower court acquitted the defendants, including several police officers, in the gang rape case. This was not unexpected, given the High Court's determination that there was no conclusive evidence against the accused. We are concerned for the safety of Uzma and her family after this ruling as they will no longer have state protection and they have already been targeted for bringing the case. We are strategizing with partners about ways to protect her.
UPDATE 22 June 2012: On 19 June, the Peshawar High Court in Pakistan dismissed its December 2011 inquiry into this case. The court found that the DNA test results of Uzma’s baby did not match the men implicated in the gang-rape. In addition, it ordered Uzma to undergo multiple lie detector tests and found the results inconclusive. On 4 June, Equality Now wrote to the court expressing great concern about subjecting a rape victim to lie-detector testing which is psychologically damaging and, given the inconclusive nature of the results, highly prejudicial.
Uzma's gang-rape case and her brother's murder case are still pending at the lower court and Equality Now and our partners are strategizing on next steps.
UPDATE 29 February 2012: Pressure from human rights groups and media prompted the Pakistani government to take action in the case of Uzma Ayub. Following the Peshawar High Court's call for thorough inquiries and strict action against all perpetrators and the police officers who failed to take action in both the rape and murder cases in December 2011, 14 people have been arrested in the rape case and 29 police officers have been suspended. The alleged murderer of Uzma's brother is still at large but 15 of his alleged co-conspirators have been arrested. For Uzma’s safety, the government has relocated her and her mother to Peshawar. On 19 January, Uzma gave birth to a baby girl. DNA samples have been taken from the baby and the alleged rapists and are being tested in order to identify the child's father. The next hearing in the rape case will be held after the results of the paternity test have been released.
Please join us as we continue to call upon the Pakistani government to ensure that Uzma’s case is fully and properly investigated and that all the perpetrators involved, including those who may have obstructed justice, are prosecuted to the full extent of the law. Similarly, continue to call on them to ensure that all those responsible for the murder of Uzma’s brother Alamzeb are swiftly and properly brought to justice and prosecuted.
Dear _____ :
I write to you with deep concern regarding the case of gang-rape victim Uzma Ayub from Karak in the Khyber Pakhtunkha (KP) province.
I was concerned to hear about the horrific circumstances concerning 16 year old Uzma’s case and that she was held captive for almost a year during which she was repeatedly gang raped by a number of individuals including police officers resulting in a pregnancy. I was deeply dismayed to hear that Uzma and her family having already suffered such tragedy, have been further traumatized by the killing of Uzma’s brother Alamzeb Marwat outside the Karak District court allegedly by relatives of some of the police perpetrators.
Despite intense pressure and death threats, Uzma and her family are fighting for justice. This case has highlighted a shocking level of police corruption in the area and I urge you to please address this situation urgently. I respectfully urge you to ensure that Uzma’s case is fully and properly investigated and that all the perpetrators involved, including those who may have obstructed justice, are prosecuted to the full extent of the law, in accordance with Pakistan’s own Constitution, which states that “all citizens are equal before law and are entitled for equal protection of law” and that “there shall be no discrimination on the basis of sex alone,” along-side Pakistan’s international human rights obligations to ensure justice for all. I also ask that you ensure all those responsible for the murder of Uzma’s brother Alamzeb are swiftly and properly brought to justice and prosecuted.
It is also my understanding that local NGOs who have been supporting Uzma in her fight for justice have been threatened. I urge you to ensure that local organisations are protected and any threats against them investigated and appropriately prosecuted.
By prosecuting the perpetrators the government of KP will send a clear message that such criminal actions, particularly by those who should be upholding the law, will not be tolerated.
Thank you for your attention.