URGENT ACTION: Executions set to resume in Pakistan

The execution of Behram Khan by hanging has been scheduled for 30 June. It would be the first execution in Pakistan in almost four years and could pave the way for authorities to carry out more death sentences. Only the President of Pakistan can permanently halt his execution.

Behram Khan was sentenced to death by an Anti-Terrorism Court on 23 June 2003 for the murder of lawyer Mohammad Ashraf. On 15 April 2003, Behram Khan came to the Sindh High Court, intending to kill Qurban Ali Chauhan, a lawyer representing a man accused of killing Behram Khan’s maternal uncle. Mistaking him for Qurban Ali Chauhan, Behram Khan killed Mohammad Ashraf. A sub-inspector of police, Pir Bux, who accompanied Behram Khan to the court, was sentenced to life imprisonment for assisting with the killing.

Appeals against Behram Khan’s death sentence at both the Sindh High Court and the Supreme Court of Pakistan were rejected, as was a subsequent mercy petition submitted to Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari. On 10 May, following the dismissal of the mercy petition, an Anti-Terrorism Court issued a final warrant for Behram Khan’s execution on 23 May. On 17 May however, the President issued a stay order, postponing the execution until 30 June.

The execution would be the first to take place in Pakistan since late 2008 and the first under the current government.

Please write immediately in English, Urdu or your own language:

Calling on President Zardari to immediately halt Behram Khan’s execution;

Reminding President Zardari of Amnesty International’s position that the death penalty is the ultimate cruel, inhumane and degrading punishment, and a violation of the right to life;

Calling for the Pakistan government to establish an official moratorium on all executions in the country, including Behram Kahn’s, as a first step towards abolition of the death penalty, in line with the growing global trend, and UN General Assembly resolutions 62/149 (2007), 63/168 (2008) and 65/206 (2010);

Urging the Pakistan President to commute all existing death sentences.



Asif Ali Zardari, Pakistan Secretariat, Islamabad

Pakistan, Fax: +92 51 920 4974

Email: publicmail@president.gov.pk

Salutation: Dear President


Additional Information

The Pakistan Government has not carried out executions since late 2008, but death sentences continue to be imposed, with at least 313 handed down in 2011. Over half of all those sentenced to death last year were found guilty of murder, while others were convicted of offences ranging from drug trafficking and rape to kidnapping for ransom. Three persons were sentenced to death for blasphemy, but no one has ever been executed for this offence in Pakistan’s history. The Human Rights Commission of Pakistan estimates that over 8,300 people are currently on death row.

 The resumption of executions after a hiatus of almost four years would place Pakistan in opposition to regional and global trends towards abolition of the death penalty. As of May 2012, more than two-thirds of all countries have abolished the death penalty in law or practice. Most recently, on 13 March 2012, Mongolia became the 141st country to join this group by becoming a state party to the Second Optional Protocol to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, aiming at the abolition of the death penalty.

 Out of 41 countries in the Asia-Pacific region, 17 have abolished the death penalty for all crimes, 10 are abolitionist in practice and one – Fiji – uses the death penalty only for exceptional military crimes. Over the years several UN and regional bodies have discussed and adopted resolutions, recommendations and instruments to support the call for the worldwide abolition of the death penalty. In 2007, 2008 and 2010 the UN General Assembly adopted with large majorities resolutions 62/149, 63/168 and 65/206 respectively, calling for the establishment of a moratorium on the use of the death penalty “with a view to abolishing the death penalty.”

 Amnesty International opposes the death penalty in all cases without exception, considering it a violation of the right to life as recognized in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the ultimate cruel, inhuman and degrading punishment.

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