Pakistan must halt tomorrow’s scheduled hanging of a paraplegic man who developed tubercular (TB) meningitis while on death row, and immediately impose a moratorium on all executions, Amnesty International said.
Abdul Basit, who is paralysed from the waist down, was convicted of murder six years ago but has always maintained his innocence.
His execution was originally due to be carried out on 29 July 2015, but the Lahore High Court stayed his execution at the 11th hour after a petition was filed by his lawyers arguing his hanging would constitute cruel and inhuman punishment. The Court rejected the petition and gave the prison authorities a green light for the hanging to go ahead on 22 September.
“Instead of debating the logistics of how to put a man in a wheelchair to death, the authorities in Pakistan should grant reprieve to Abdul Basit,” said Sultana Noon, Amnesty International’s Pakistan Researcher.
“This case has once again drawn widespread attention to the cruelty of the relentless conveyer belt of executions in Pakistan. At least 240 people have been put to death since December 2014 – a staggeringly high number that makes it one of the top three executing countries in the world. Pakistan should immediately impose a moratorium on executions with a view to the full abolition of the death penalty.”
Abdul Basit became paralysed in 2010 due to the inhumane conditions in which he was kept in Central Jail Faisalabad, and was not given sufficient healthcare after being diagnosed with TB meningitis, leading to severe spinal cord damage.
In December 2014, Pakistan resumed executions after a six year pause with the government claiming that this was necessary to fight terrorism. Since then Amnesty International has recorded 240 executions, many of which have been carried out in violation of Pakistan’s commitment to international law, making Pakistan one of the most prolific executioners in the world in 2015. Around 8,000 prisoners are currently on death row.
Amnesty International has repeatedly called for an immediate halt to executions as a first step towards the eventual repeal of the death penalty in Pakistan.