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The devastating response of the Pakistani government in the wake of the sickening Peshawar school massacre has set the country on a relentless and reprehensible course of executions, said Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch.
       
In an open letter to Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif today, the organizations urge the Pakistani government to immediately establish an official moratorium on all executions with a view to the eventual abolition of the death penalty. Over the past 12 months, more than 300 people have been put to death in the country.

“In the space of one year, Pakistan has become one of the world’s top three executioners – a dark and shameful development. The authorities must ensure that the relentless push to send death row prisoners to the gallows ends now before more lives are lost,” said David Griffiths, Amnesty International’s South Asia Research Director.

“One year of so many deaths at the gallows is already one too many. The tragic events of the Peshawar attack rightly demanded a strong response from the government, but the relentless use of executions just perpetuates violence. Pakistan must immediately establish an official moratorium on all executions, and work towards ending the death penalty once and for all.”

In the immediate aftermath of the attack, which left 150 people dead – mostly children and female teachers – the Pakistani government lifted a six year moratorium on executions, initially for terrorism-related offences only. Since then more than 300 people have been put to death – the majority of those executed so far were not convicted of offences related to terrorism.

Amnesty International opposes the death penalty in all cases without exception, 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. The death penalty violates the right to life as proclaimed in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. It is the ultimate cruel, inhuman and degrading punishment; and should be abolished.