Married as a child and wrongly accused of murdering husband – Woman seeks compensation
Rani Bibi was 13 when police arrested her for killing her husband whom she reminisces “as a good man”
A child bride, Rani Bibi spent nearly 20 years in prison for a murder she did not commit. She was 13 when police arrested her for killing her husband whom she reminisces “as a good man”.
Rani Bibi is now free and seeking compensation in a test case for many other false convictions.
Bibi’s parents and her brother were also arrested, as they all were the last people to be seen with her husband when the couple was visiting her parent’s home.
According to court documents, the body of Bibi’s husband was found buried at his own residence.
Rani Bibi was wrongly convicted in 2001 for the murder. A jail supervisor failed to register her petition to the high court many times and she was left without a state counsel to represent her and was unable to afford a private one.
It was only in 2014 when Bibi’s petition was taken up after a lawyer, who supervised a local charity, met her on a routine jail visit and fought for her freedom.
In 2017, the Lahore High Court released Bibi over a lack of evidence and apologized, saying she was “left to suffer in the jail solely due to the lackluster attitude of the prison authorities”.
The LHC judge said in his order, “This court feels helpless in compensating Bibi.”
However, Bibi’s freedom signaled the start of a new battle in the country.
Pakistan is a guarantor to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. An agreement implemented by the UN General Assembly in 1966 that guarantees the right to compensation for victims of false convictions. However, the country has not yet assimilated the terms into the local laws.
Bibi and her lawyers are now determined to change that.
In March this year, the Foundation for Fundamental Rights, a legal advocacy group fighting for Bibi, filed an appeal to claim the Punjab government pay compensation for the “miscarriage of justice”.
Bibi said, “I did not know, I could demand something or how much it should be, but I hope the concerned authorities can just give me enough so I can buy things for my house. I have nothing right now.”
Bibi has decided to start her new life after walking free. She found jobs as domestic aid and remarried four months ago.
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