Pakistan must restore moratorium on death penalty: HRW

Pakistan should immediately halt a planned execution and officially reinstate its moratorium on the death penalty, Human Rights Watch said today. 

New York: Pakistan should immediately halt a planned execution and officially reinstate its moratorium on the death penalty, Human Rights Watch said today. 

The proposed execution of Shoaib Sarwar, scheduled for September 18, 2014, will end Pakistan`s unofficial six-year death penalty moratorium by civilian courts and return Pakistan to the dwindling ranks of countries imposing capital punishment.

The Jail Department scheduled Sarwar`s execution following President Mamnoon Hussain`s rejection of Sarwar`s clemency plea. 

The execution would be the first of a civilian in Pakistan since 2008. Pakistan has more than 8,000 prisoners on death row, one of the world`s largest populations of prisoners facing execution.

"Pakistan is about to revert to the odious practice of sending people to the gallows after a six-year unofficial moratorium. The government should declare an official moratorium, commute all existing death sentences, and then join the international trend by abolishing the death penalty once and for all," said Brad Adams, Asia director at Human Rights Watch.

The Rawalpindi District and Sessions Court sentenced Sarwar to death on July 2, 1998 for murder. The Lahore High Court`s Rawalpindi bench rejected Sarwar`s appeal on July 2, 2003. On April 3, 2006, the Pakistani Supreme Court confirmed the sentence.

The Pakistan Government`s move toward resuming the death penalty began on July 4, 2013, when the government of the newly elected Prime Minister, Nawaz Sharif, refused to renew a 2008 Presidential Order imposing a moratorium on executions. Pakistani law mandates capital punishment for 28 offenses, including murder, rape, treason, and blasphemy. 

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