Pakistan has hanged 425 people since the abolishment of moratorium on executions in terrorism-related cases, becoming one of the top countries in the world to hand down death sentence to convicts. “By executing 333 convicts in 2015 alone, Pakistan joined the ranks of the top executioners in the world. Courts continue to award capital punishment to suspects at a rapid rate,” Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP) said. The commission said a total of 425 people have been hanged since Pakistan resumed executions in December 2014.
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In the aftermath of the deadliest attack on an army-run school in Peshawar in December 2014, in which more than 150 people mostly children were killed, Pakistan had lifted a moratorium on executions in terrorism-related cases. “As many as 225 individuals had been sentenced in 2014 and 411 in 2015. The number of convictions had already reached 301 by the end of September this year,” it said.
The HRCP has also demanded reform of the criminal justice system before continuing with the death penalty under the National Action Plan (NAP). “Owing to critical and well-documented deficiencies in the law and administration of justice, death penalty allows a very high probability of miscarriage of justice, which is unacceptable in any civilised society, particularly when the punishment was irreversible,” said HRCP Secretary General I A Rehman.
“It is obvious that none of the reasons for stopping executions in 2008 have changed. Things have rather deteriorated. We have seen how real the possibility of hanging minors and mentally and physically challenged individuals can be,” he said. Noting that “grave concerns” have arisen over the denial of fair trial and due process rights in trial by military courts, Rehman said in such circumstances it was imperative to immediately halt executions, restore the moratorium and move towards abolition of the death penalty.
He said “investigation methods” of police and chronic corruption also added to the troubles of those who were charged with capital offences. “The system of justice is loaded against the poor and lack of financial means put those accused of death penalty offences at a serious disadvantage,” Rehman said.
Noting that religion is often invoked to justify capital punishment, he said yet in fact no more than a couple of the 27 death penalty offences on the statute books in Pakistan are mandated by religion. According to latest Amnesty International data on executions around the world, Pakistan is on the five death penalty purveyors in the world, behing only China and Iran.