Pakistan to resume capital punishment after six-year moratorium

After observing a six-year 'informal' moratorium on capital punishments, Pakistan is all set to hang a death row prisoner on September 18, amid outcry by human rights activists demanding abolition of the death penalty.

PTI| Last Updated: Sep 11, 2014, 20:02 PM IST

Lahore: After observing a six-year 'informal' moratorium on capital punishments, Pakistan is all set to hang a death row prisoner on September 18, amid outcry by human rights activists demanding abolition of the death penalty.

A district and session's court in Rawalpindi has ordered the authorities concerned to execute a death row prisoner, Shoaib Sarwar, currently languishing in Haripur prison in Rawalpindi's Adiala Jail on September 18.

The convict was awarded death sentence on July 2, 1998 on the charge of murdering a man named Awais Nawaz at Wah Cantt in Rawalpindi in 1996.

The victim's brother had moved the high court against the delay in implementing the sentence despite exhaustion of all appeals by the convict and rejection of his clemency plea by the President.
The High Court (Rawalpindi) ordered the district and sessions judge to implement the execution of the sentence.

District and Sessions Judge Abdul Sattar yesterday ordered the Adiala Jail authorities to implement the death sentence of Shaoib.

The last execution of a civilian death row prisoner in Pakistan had taken place in late 2008. Executions had since been suspended.

Taking strong exception to the decision, the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP) has expressed grave concern over the scheduled hanging of the convict in Adiala Jail despite an informal moratorium on executions.

The HRCP has called upon the government to stay the hanging and announce a formal moratorium on executions.

"We wish to remind the government that the reasons that have caused the stay of executions since 2008 have not changed. These include the well-documented deficiencies of the law, flaws in administration of justice and investigation methods and chronic corruption.

"In view of these factors, capital punishment allows for a high probability of miscarriages of justice, which is wholly unacceptable in a civilised society, particularly because the punishment is irreversible," HRCP said.

Against this backdrop, Sarwar's planned execution on September 18 is a regressive step and raises concerns at several levels, it said.

Despite the informal stay of executions, capital punishment remains on Pakistan's statute books for 28 offences, and the courts continue to award death sentences.

HRCP calls upon the government to immediately halt this and any other executions that might be under consideration and make the informal suspension of executions formal without further delay.

It demanded that the government must take urgent measures towards abolition of capital punishment, including deletion of the death penalty from the statute book, at least for all but the most serious offences.

The HRCP has also urged the government to sign the Optional Protocol to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, aimed at the abolition of the death penalty.