NationalVOLUME 18 ISSUE # 45

Implementation and regulations of sex offenders register: Safeguarding vulnerable populations

Sexual violence against any individual is a grave crime and a severe violation of human rights. A report released by the non-governmental organization Sahil has disclosed that between January and June of 2023, there were a total of 2,227 reported cases of child sexual abuse and 53 cases of child pornography documented across Pakistan.

It is deeply concerning that an average of around 12 children were subjected to sexual abuse every day during the mentioned period. Furthermore, data from the National Police Bureau (NPB) reveals that the total number of sexual violence cases reported in the country from 2019 to 2021 stands at 11,160.

The state bears the responsibility of implementing protective measures to combat sexual violence offenses and prevent their recurrence by convicted or habitual offenders. Therefore, the notification issued on September 13 regarding the Anti-Rape (Sex Offenders Register) Rules 2023 under the Anti-Rape (Investigation and Trial) Act 2021 by the Ministry of Law and Justice (MoLJ) represents a positive step forward.

A sex offenders register (SOR) is a mechanism employed by several countries to monitor individuals convicted of sexual offenses against both children and adults. Here are some recommendations that can enhance the effectiveness of these measures in addressing sexual offenses.

The SOR is mandated under Section 24 of the Anti-Rape Act, which specifies that: “The National Data-Base and Registration Authority (NADRA) shall establish a register of sex offenders.”

The definition of a ‘sex offender’ is outlined in Section 2(h) of the Anti-Rape Act and includes any person convicted under various sections of the Pakistan Penal Code (PPC) 1860 and the Prevention of Electronic Crimes Act 2016. However, it does not encompass Section 354 (assault or criminal force to a woman with intent to outrage her modesty) and 354A (assault or use of criminal force to a woman and stripping her of her clothes). Additionally, it does not address the kidnapping or abduction of children or make references to the Trafficking in Persons Act 2018.

In contrast, in Australia, the Crimes (Child Sex Offenders) Act 2005 covers trafficking in children, whether intentional or reckless, as to whether the child will be used to provide sexual services.

Regarding the SOR Rules, it is a concise document consisting of 17 rules and 4 (A-D) forms spanning across 14 pages.

According to Rule 3 (3), the SOR will be electronically maintained by the National Database and Registration Authority (NADRA) and will only be accessed with explicit authorization as prescribed in the rules. The NADRA has been entrusted with the responsibility for the “storage, protection, retention, and destruction of the data in compliance with instructions issued by the Ministry of Law and Justice, developed in consultation with the National Police Bureau and the NADRA.”

Furthermore, Rule 4 provides guidelines on the information stored in the SOR. This includes personal details such as name, alias, father’s name, date of birth, gender, recent photograph, nationality, national identity card number, POR card number or alien card number, passport number, FIR number with police station and district where it was registered, fingerprints, history of DNA profiling, identifying marks, permanent and temporary addresses, specific offenses for which the offender was convicted, certified conviction and acquittal orders from the court, offender category, description of the modus operandi of the offense, and previous and current employment status.

According to Rule 5(1), when an individual is convicted of a sexual offense, the special prosecutor appointed in the special court under the Anti-Rape Act, who convicted the individual, will submit the completed Form A (provided in the rules) to the National Police Bureau (NPB) for verification. The NPB will then electronically submit the received information to the National Database and Registration Authority (NADRA) through the prescribed application programming interface for the storage of data in the Sex Offenders Register (SOR).

Rule 5(3) stipulates that entry into the SOR should be made as soon as possible but no later than 15 days after a person is convicted of a sex offense.

It’s important to emphasize that requests for access to the SOR (through the district public prosecutor) can only be made “for the purpose of investigation and prosecution” according to Rule 6. Similarly, Rule 7(2) states, “The data shall only be stored in the sex offenders register for the specific purpose of investigation and prosecution of sex offenses.” Rule 7(3) also specifies that “all authorities with access to and applying for the release of data on the sex offenders registry shall only process it for the stated purpose.”

According to the 2023 ‘Cruel Numbers’ report by Sahil, 51 offenses of child sexual abuse were committed by neighbors, 17 by schoolteachers, 15 by religious teachers, eight by shopkeepers, two by drivers, and one by a school guard.

Rule 9(2) outlines that convicted offenders in the SOR will be categorized into three groups: A, B, and C. The categorization depends on the length of imprisonment the offender has received.

As per Rule 10, upon release from prison, a sex offender must notify the officer-in-charge of the police station where they reside within three days of release. The officer-in-charge of the police station will then submit the completed Form B to the district police officer for onward submission to NADRA through the NPB for updating the SOR. This process should be completed within 15 days, as mentioned in Rule 10(2).

According to Rule 11, all individuals on the SOR must update their details every six months with the police station in their residential area.

Rule 13 mandates that individuals on the SOR must notify their local police station no less than seven days before any planned domestic travel and no less than 30 days before any international travel.

Rule 16 states that “if a successful appeal is filed after the conviction, which results in an acquittal, the previous conviction record will be omitted from the sex offender register.” Additionally, the conviction order will be removed from the SOR upon the death of the offender, as per Rule 16(2). However, the rules do not provide details on the procedure to be followed when an appeal against the conviction is pending in the courts.

Finally, Rule 17 assigns the special committee with the responsibility of overseeing the implementation of the SOR Rules. Overall, the notification of these rules represents a commendable effort by the Ministry of Law and Justice in safeguarding the rights of children and vulnerable individuals.


(The writer is a physician by profession. She has worked as an intern at the Capital Health (New Jersey) & the Mount Sinai St. Luke’s Hospital (New York). Rights and gender issues are the areas of special interest to her. She can be reached at: [email protected])