Cabinet approves death penalty for rapists

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Published on October 12, 2020
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The cabinet with Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina in the chair has approved a draft law prescribing death penalty for rapists as a series of rape incidents sparked nationwide protests since last month.

“The cabinet unanimously endorsed the amended law . . . prescribing capital punishment for rape instead of (existing) lifetime rigorous imprisonment,” cabinet secretary Khandaker Anwarul Islam told a news briefing at the cabinet division of Bangladesh Secretariat here.

He added that during the cabinet meeting the premier particularly laid emphasis on completing rape trials within the stipulated timeframe as well while the cabinet approved the “Women and Children Repression Prevention (Amendment) Ordinance- 2020”.

The Premier joined the meeting from her official Ganabhaban residence while her cabinet colleagues were connected from the Bangladesh Secretariat through virtual media.

Islam added that the draft law amended the existing one replaced the words “lifetime rigorous imprisonment” with “death penalty or lifetime rigorous imprisonment” for rape.

He expected an unchanged provision of compensation to victims by the rape convicts to be properly highlighted as well during the rape trials.

Law minister Anisul Huq, meanwhile, told BSS that the Women and Children Repression Prevention (Amendment) Bill was expected to receive President M Abdul Hamid’s assent by tomorrow to be promulgated as an ordinance since parliament was not in session at the moment.

“Surely it (law) will be a deterrent to such notorious crimes while we simultaneously will make all-out efforts to expedite the trial process of rape cases in the relevant courts,” Huq said.

The cabinet secretary substantiated the minister saying the culprits would now think twice that the death is the capital punishment for the crime.

He said the President could enact the ordinance exercising his power under Article 93 (1) of the Constitution.

The cabinet secretary said the rape trials would be held at Women and Children Repression Prevention Tribunal under the section 20 (3) of the existing law and be completed by 180 days.

Country witnesses widespread street protests after a horrifying footage went on viral on the social media platforms last week where a group of men were seen stripping and attacking a woman at a village in southeastern Noakhali.

But the cabinet secretary said the draft law was not framed merely considering the anti-rape protests and rather “the amendments have been brought to the existing law considering all the aspects including the present situation and the reality”.

“We have gone through laws of many countries,” Islam said.