LAHORE, JANUARY 01, 2019: A man was arrested here in Lahore by the Federal Investigation Agency’s cyber crime wing, FIA, for being involved in child pornography.
According to a source in FIA, the accused named Imdad Ali was allegedly involved in making pictures and videos of minor girls aged 5-8 years.
On receiving information, an FIA team nabbed the suspect from Badami Bagh after they were able to collect Mobile Geographical Locations and conduct static surveillance for identifying his house. Digital media containing pictures and videos of minor girls were also recovered from his possession during the raid.
During interrogation the accused confessed to his crime and also pointed towards the nearby house where he would take the minor girls for the pornographic content.
It is not clear whether the accused is part of any local or international child pornography network. Also his motive for pursuing such activities is not clear. An FIR has been registered and further investigation is being carried.
Child Pornography is a punishable offence under the 2016 Pakistan Electronic Crimes Act. Persons involved in such a crime can be awarded up to seven years imprisonment or five million rupees fine.
Over the past one year, multiple suspects have been arrested across the country. In one instance, a man believed to be part of an international racket of child pornography was arrested from Jhang on the tip by Interpol Canada.
Also , the first ever conviction in a child pornography case happened in April 2018 when a man from Sargodha was sentenced to 7 years imprisonment and fined Rs. 1.2 million. More than 650,000 child pornography videos were recovered from his possession.
Dawn: FIA arrests child pornographer in Badami Bagh
The Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) on Tuesday arrested a child pornographer who was involved in this heinous crime in the Badami Bagh area for quite some time and recovered video clips from his mobile phone. The authority was moved into action after a video clip of the 45-year-old suspect (name withheld) with a child had gone viral on social media.
“The video clips of 27 girls, mostly minors, have so far been retrieved from the mobile phone of the suspect. In these clips, he appears forcing the children into sexual acts,” FIA cyber crime wing Deputy Director Chaudhry Sarfraz told Dawn.
The cyber crime wing has sent the suspect’s mobile phone for forensic examination and booked him under the Prevention of Electronic Crime Act (Peca). The FIA has become complainant in this case on behalf of the state after none of the identified victim girls’ families showed willingness to file a complaint against the suspect.
According to the FIA, the man is not a part of a pornography ring (involved in selling material online) as he used to film his victims for his ‘own consumption,’ being a pervert.
On Tuesday, an FIA team, constituted on directions of cyber crime Director retired Capt Muhammad Shoaib, raided the suspect’s place in the Badami Bagh area after collecting his mobile phone location and static surveillance and arrested him.
It took FIA three months to track him down after one of his clips went viral on social media.
“We have tracked him down after hard work of three months,” Chaudhry Sarfraz said and added that the raiding team also recovered the digital media of the suspect, containing pictures and videos of the minor girls.
“The suspect, a spurious engine oil dealer, has confessed to committing the crime. He also took the team to a nearby house he owned where he would take minor girls (mostly of the nearby areas) after luring them either through candies or money,” he said.
Talking about the FIA’s problem in producing the victim girls before the court to testify against the suspect, Mr Sarfraz said: “The FIA cannot force any of the victim girls, identified so far, to testify before the court against the suspect. The families of a couple of victim girls are of the view that exposing them (girls) amounts to ruining their lives. The FIA, on behalf of the state, has decided to become a complainant in this case and present the forensic report and investigation against the suspect before the court for his conviction,” said Mr Sarfraz who also appealed to the chief justice of Pakistan to take suo motu notice of the matter to enhance punishment in such cases.
According to the new cyber crime law, “a child pornographer shall be punished with imprisonment for a term of up to seven years or with a fine of up to Rs5m or with both”.
The FIA Punjab in 2017-18 had tracked down four men in different areas of the province allegedly involved in child pornography and uploading and selling the content online.
Taimur Maqsood, a suspect from Jhang, has been accused of exchanging child pornographic content online and Saadat Amin of Sargodha allegedly sold such material online. Nabil of Fatehjang allegedly made porn videos/pictures of some children and Ziaul Haq of Sargodha allegedly filmed the children by forcing them into sexual act with him.
In the first two cases, the Norwegian and Canadian authorities had alerted the FIA while in the third and fourth cases, the families of the affected children had reported the matter to the authority.
Sadat Amin was handed down seven years imprisonment last year, the first-ever conviction for child pornography in the country.
At the moment, there is no team at any FIA office working full time to track down the suspects involved in selling or uploading pornographic material online. The FIA goes after suspects on the basis of tip-offs or complaints.
Talal Raza is a Program Manager at Media Matters for Democracy. He has worked with renowned media organizations and NGOs including Geo News, The Nation, United States Institute of Peace and Privacy International.