ISLAMABAD – After the issue was highlighted globally through the Oscar Award winning documentary, Saving Face, Acid Survivors Foundation (ASF), Pakistan, has called for a comprehensive legislation to eradicate acid and burn crimes from the country.

To eradicate acid and burn crimes from Pakistan, ASF representatives at a press conference called upon the legislators to pass a comprehensive specific law, already prepared by Acid Survivors Foundation, Pakistan, in collaboration with all stakeholders, including the civil society, elected representatives, law and medical experts, and the survivors, from all over Pakistan.

“We welcome the recent amendment in the PPC as a significant achievement as it acknowledges the gravity of acid crimes, criminalise it and enhances punishment for acid crimes. However, we consider that said amendment is not enough to eradicate acid crimes from Pakistan, said Valerie Khan of ASF.” She said the current amendment does not address the investigation process that often faces delays.

There is a need to make investigation more efficient, make police officers accountable, enhance the level of investigation officers, and ensure protection to victims and witnesses through law. The length of trial needs to be fixed and accountability should be set in case of an unfair trial and above all there is no provision for the rehabilitation of the survivors in this law, the speakers said.

There is also a strong need for an authority or a forum to support victims in medical treatment, socio-economic rehabilitation and legal support, besides collecting and maintaining data and establishing an appropriate surveillance/funding system, that could facilitate implementation, awareness and preventive steps.

The Pakistani government and law makers are therefore requested to follow the example of Bangladesh, where number of acid throwing incidents have dropped from 500 a year in 1998 to 60 a year currently, thanks to effective legislation and improved implementation.

The ASF called for early legislation of the proposed Acid and Burn Crimes Act 2012, drafted in light of the order of the Supreme Court of Pakistan, after extensive consultation process with all stakeholders, including civil-society, legal and medical experts, local communities, law enforcement agencies, international organisations, as well as media and survivors.

The representatives said although, the documentary covers the issue in a very professional way and we are thankful to Dr. Jawad and his team from UK, who contributed to improve the lives of the survivors, there are also many other names to be mentioned and many institutions, doctors, nurses and individuals to be thanked locally and internationally, as they are active for the cause in a permanent and dedicated manner. Few of them include : Dr. Hamid Hassan, BBH, Rawalpindi, Dr. Tariq Iqbal, PIMS, Islamabad, Dr. Charles VIVA, Interplast, UK, and the team of ASTI, UK (Dr. John Morrison, Chairman, who helped establish ASF Pakistan, and the team of ASF, Pakistan).