Pakistan will imminently have executed 300 people since it lifted a moratorium on executions, shamefully sealing its place among the world’s worst executioners, Amnesty International said today.
On 25 November, Pakistani authorities are set to execute Abdul Basit, a man with paraplegia who developed tubercular (TB) meningitis while on death row. His execution has been postponed several times, since the prison has no rules on how to hang someone who cannot stand on the scaffold.
Amnesty International said the executions are a serious stain on Pakistan’s human rights record, compounding repeated violations of fair trial standards and other safeguards that must be observed in all death-penalty cases.
“Pakistan’s ongoing zeal for executions is an affront to human rights and the global trend against the death penalty. Even if the authorities stay the execution of Abdul Basit, a man with paraplegia, Pakistan is still executing people at a rate of almost one a day,” said David Griffiths, South Asia Research Director at Amnesty International.
“Not only are these relentless executions casting a large shadow over Pakistan’s human rights record, they are also ill-conceived. There is no evidence to suggest they have successfully countered the terrorism threat in the country. Indeed, prison officials told Amnesty International that the banned Lashkar-e-Jhangvi group distributed sweets to celebrate the ‘martyrdom’ of one their members executed in prison.”
Amnesty International has recorded 299 executions to date, based on publicly-reported figures. Forty-five were recorded in October 2015 alone, the deadliest month since the moratorium on executions was lifted. A majority of those executed so far were not convicted of offences related to terrorism, even though it was a Taliban massacre – of mostly schoolchildren in Peshawar last December – that prompted the authorities to lift the moratorium in place since 2008.
It was initially lifted for terrorism-related offences only – but within months, executions for a wider range of crimes were being carried out.
Amnesty International opposes the death penalty at all times in all countries, regardless of the nature or circumstances of the crime; guilt, innocence or other characteristics of the individual; or the method used by the state to carry out the execution.
“Many death sentences are handed down after trials that do not meet international fair trial standards. These trials are characterised by prisoners not receiving adequate legal counsel and by the acceptance of evidence inadmissible under international law, such as evidence obtained as a result of torture,” said David Griffiths.
“Pakistan should halt executions immediately, comply with its human rights obligations, and take steps to phase out this punishment once and for all.”