Recently, in Pakistan, a nine-month-old baby has been charged with attempted murder. Musa Khan was booked for supposedly taking part in a riot in one of the city’s slums. Musa was among five people identified in a police document known as a first information report following disturbances in February in a slum area of Lahore when workers for a gas company came to try to disconnect houses that had not paid their bills. According to the report, written by a now suspended police officer, Musa and his co-accused tried to kill the gas company workers and the policemen accompanying them by throwing stones. The people living in the area maintain that there was only ever a peaceful protest because only women were at the homes and once police came signs were raised in front of them.
The country’s media have highlighted the absurdity of the charge after the boy attended court, during which he cried while having his fingerprints recorded and had to be comforted with a milk bottle. The media has emphasized that this incident has shone an embarrassing light on Pakistan’s shambolic criminal justice system, where underpaid and ill-trained police can be quick to lay false charges that can ensnare the innocent in years of legal troubles. In addition, lawyers involved in the case have highlighted that this is an example of collective punishment on families that Pakistani Police has employed. This practice of collective punishment is also an example that some people, especially police in Pakistan, do not want justice at the hands of the Court but rather they use collective punishment to put entire families, or any one remotely associated with a crime, through hell.
In addition, the charging of toddlers is relatively rare in Pakistan and in fact the lawyer representing the baby has stated that the penal code made it impossible for children under the age of seven to be considered to have committed a criminal offence. However, there are examples of young children being ensnared in the country’s blasphemy laws, which have been much criticized by human rights groups. The point is that this nine-month-old baby being charged with attempted murder simply calls into question the efficiency of the Pakistani Police.
Does anyone find this story just absurd?
How would this collective punishing policy be handled in the U.S.?