London: A top human rights group has appealed to Pakistan to put an end to the spate of executions in the country after a moratorium on death penalty was lifted in the wake of the Peshawar school attack.
Since a moratorium on executions was lifted on December 17, Pakistan has threatened to send around 500 death row prisoners convicted on terrorism charges to the gallows. Pakistan has carried out a number of executions in the last one month.
"The killing spree that is unfolding in Pakistan must end immediately. As horrific as the Peshawar attack was, proving you are tough on crime by carrying out more killings is never the answer to combating violence," said David Griffiths, Amnesty International's Deputy Asia Pacific Director.
"The government should immediately reinstate a moratorium on executions with a view to the eventual abolition of the death penalty," said Griffiths.
While Amnesty International opposes the death penalty in all circumstances, its use in Pakistan is even more troubling since many death sentences are handed down after manifestly unfair trials, he said.
"Frequent use of torture to extract 'confessions', a lack of access to legal counsel and long periods of detention without charge are just some of our concerns," said Griffiths.
Judges are also under pressure to conclude trials within seven working days, Griffiths said.
Over the past weeks, Pakistan has amended its constitution to speed up the prosecution of terror cases and move them from civilian to military courts.
The jurisdiction of military courts over cases of terrorism raises serious concerns about fair trial guarantees, as rights could be violated in the rush to ensure speedy terrorism convictions.