Justice Project Pakistan launches comedy show Mid House Cafe to raise awareness about police torture

Published 28 Jun, 2022 01:07pm

Images Staff

The production features a group of politicians discussing the anti-torture bill before voting on it.

Photo: Justice Project Pakistan/YouTube
Photo: Justice Project Pakistan/YouTube

Justice Project Pakistan (JPP), a Lahore-based NGO that works to get justice for prisoners, produced a short comedy show called Mid House Cafe to highlight the need for an anti-torture bill in Pakistan. Taking real life elements of a news panel and conversations amongst politicians, the skit is both funny and insightful.

The show aired on Sunday. "Could a spoonful of humour help pass an anti-torture bill?" the JPP asked.

The caption revealed that the story follows a discussion between a group of politicians during their tea break, just before the vote on an anti-torture bill, peppered by live media coverage and analysis of the developments. "It leads the audience through various layers of discourse by weaving through a talk show, an informal huddle in a cafe and a world online affecting everything. The characters are fictional and an amalgamation of figures from Pakistan’s political spectrum and news media landscape," it read.

The mini-website introduces the colourful characters that we see come to life in the show. It has stated that they are fictional and an amalgamation of figures from Pakistan’s political spectrum as well as news media landscape. What's great is that not only do they remind you of actual politicians but the representation and variety of characters seem pretty accurate as well. The inclusion of someone from the the Khwaja Sira community was a welcome addition.

The website explains what the cafe is all about: "Welcome to Mid House Cafe! The Mid House Cafe is a cosy place for all parliamentarians, no matter their political leanings, to sit and debate legislative matters together, share memes and discuss the need for an anti-torture bill."

Aside from being an entertaining watch, the production adds to the conversation about the use of torture and forced confessions in Pakistan, flaws in the criminal justice system and the resultant gross human rights violations.

JPP chose June 26 to share the show because it was the United Nations’ International Day in Support of Victims of Torture. Observed annually, it is a reminder that torture is not only morally wrong but that it's also legally wrong and is a crime. The Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (UNCAT) is an international human rights treaty, under the purview of the UN, that aims to prevent torture and other acts of cruel, inhuman, degrading treatment or punishment around the world.

JPP has started a campaign under the hashtag #CriminalizeTorture that aims to engage the public to "raise awareness about the pervasive use of torture by the police and increase support for legislation criminalising torture in Pakistan."

JPP has outlined the outreach initiatives that include bringing vulnerable communities susceptible to torture to the forefront, partnering with educational institutes, engaging the youth as well as garnering public support to stress the importance of criminalising torture.