PAKISTAN – ADPAN appeals for a stay of executions

On 18 August, Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif announced a stay of execution until a meeting has been held with President Asif Ali Zardari who opposes the death penalty.

At least eight people were scheduled to be executed between 20 and 25 August in Sindh  and Punjab provinces: Attaullah alias Qasim, Muhammad Azam alias Sharif and Jalal alias Abdul Jalil (Sukkur Jail), Behram Khan and Shafqat Hussain (Karachi Central Prison) and Muhammad Munic Hussain (Vehari Jail), Zulfiqar Ali Khan, (Kot Lakhpat Jail)  and Mohammad Ameen.

All were convicted of a variety of crimes including murder and kidnapping.  Shafqat Hussain and Mohammad Ameen were juveniles at the time of the offence. Pakistan is a state party to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and the Convention on the Rights of the Child which prohibits the death penalty for offences committed by those under 18 years of age.

Unfair trials are routine:  courts consider statements extracted through torture, and inadequate access to legal counsel is commonplace. Court appointed lawyers are poorly paid and inexperienced. Many are denied a right to appeal. Some are tried by special courts presided over by the military rather than an independent judiciary, as was the case with a soldier executed in 2012, the most recent exercise of the death penalty in Pakistan.

Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif recently announced he would resume executions to improve the law and order situation in the country, only to abruptly announce a halt in planned executions on Sunday 18 August.

ADPAN acknowledges the right and responsibility of governments to bring to justice those suspected of criminal offences. But the death penalty will not give justice to victims of crimes and human rights abuses. The death penalty does not address fundamental problems in law enforcement, and in the justice system and there is no evidence that it deters crime more effectively than other punishments.

More than 8,000 prisoners are under sentence of death. If executions resume, 450 of these are reportedly in imminent danger of execution.

ADPAN members in Pakistan and many NGOs  and civil society groups support the moratorium and are working to stop these executions.

ADPAN is appealing to the Pakistan authorities to halt all executions and institute a formal moratorium on the death penalty.  ADPAN opposes the death penalty in all circumstances.

ADPAN members:

  • Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP)
  • Justice Project Pakistan (JPP)
  • Prison Fellowship Pakistan (PFP)
  • Democratic Commission for Human Development (DCHD)
  • Amnesty International (AI)

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