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Project Launching Ceremony – Supporting Mechanisms for Vulnerable Groups in the Criminal Justice System

Legal Rights Forum (LRF) is striving to strengthen the Rule of Law; improving access to justice; Promoting human, labour rights and informal justice system in Pakistan. LRF envisions a democratic, just, educated, peaceful and inclusive society wherein all citizens, especially children, youth, women, person with special needs and transgender should live with equal protection of law, self-respect and dignity. LRF provides support in programs including, advocacy, raising awareness, research, public interest litigation, cost effective legal assistance, psycho-social support and capacity building to the all stakeholders.

Since many years Pakistan has been facing considerable challenges for the rule of law. The trust deficit increases between citizen and the state apparatus, in particular of the criminal justice system further increased crime rates stand in contradiction to low detection and conviction rates of delinquents. The system as such and the individual institutions, i.e. police, prosecution and justice, are barely efficient, outdated, politicized and fragmented and are at the same time under considerable pressure to succeed. In addition to the inadequate individual capacity of the institutions, they also lack interaction and coordination during the investigation procedures.

Gender insensitive culture at police stations in general and a lack of training of police officials on gender issues in particular are some of the key reasons. In Sindh there are only few women police stations which are also in poor condition in terms of staffing, infrastructure and resources. Women face several issues accessing criminal justice system and the situation even become worse when there are barriers accessing the basic service unit of the Criminal Justice System which is a Police Station. Transforming the current culture of the police stations into a gender inclusive institutions will improve the situation for women to access the criminal justice.

Mr Tahir Malik, ED welcomed the honorable guests and audience and shared the LRF contribution to the project and hope this cooperation would lead to change in criminal justice system. Further Dr Astrid Bosh, Head of Program GIZ/CIS-II thanks for audience for their time and she discussed the objectives of the program i.e., improving education and training to strengthen and increase investigative capacities in criminal investigations; practical use of professional methods of investigation, including the use of forensic knowledge, skills and abilities in the process of criminal investigation; and support for the creation of mechanisms to ensure an appropriate response by the criminal justice system towards vulnerable groups, especially juveniles and women.

Barrister Shahida Jamil former Federal Law Minister briefed access to criminal justice for vulnerable group and identified the gaps. She also emphasized to effective coordination among the departments. She also appreciated GIZ support for this important and in time initiative.

Ms Shamim Mumtaz Advisor to CM for Social Welfare discussed the role of Social Welfare Department in improving Criminal Justice System and elaborated the services provided to vulnerable segment of the society. She also ensured the support to enhance coordination among the stakeholders. We hope it would bring closer the institutions and benefits for the citizen.

Later a panel discussion was made on status of women and juvenile laws in Sindh in the context of effective coordination among the relative departments. The panel was comprised of representatives from Civil Society, Police, Judiciary Prosecution and subject experts. This was chaired by Ms Nuzhat Shirin, Chairperson Provincial Commission Status for Women. It was interactive and the panelists shared their suggestions and recommendations about the coordination.

At the end Mr Shaid Shafiq, Seniro Faculty Member Sindh Judicial Academy consolidated the suggestions and presented that all stakeholders are here and the Academy ensures its support to improve coordination in collaboration with Legal Rights Forum. The speakers appraised the importance of awareness and capacity building of institutions, develop strong linkages for better implementation of system. The LRF team presented Shields to the speakers, panelists and GIZ team.