HRW asks Pak to reinstate moratorium on death penalty
New York: A leading Human Rights group Wednesday asked Pakistan, which has some 8,000 prisoners on death row, to reinstate its moratorium on the death penalty.
In Pakistan's first execution in four years, Army soldier Muhammad Hussain was hanged at a jail in Punjab province on November 15, after all of his appeals for mercy were rejected.
"After a four-year unofficial moratorium, Pakistan has reverted to the odious practice of sending people to the gallows," said Ali Dayan Hasan, Pakistan director at Human Rights Watch.
"Instead, the government should declare an official moratorium, commute all existing death sentences and then abolish the death penalty for all crimes once and for all," Hasan said.
The execution in Pakistan prompted UN human rights chief Navi Pillay to express disappointment and sadness as she renewed her call for a moratorium on such practices to be made permanent.
"The Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights opposes the death penalty in any circumstances," Pillay's spokesperson Rupert Colville had said in Geneva.
Hussain was handed down the death sentence in 2008 by a military court for killing his superior.
According to UN estimates, Pakistan reportedly has some 8,000 people on death row, one of the largest numbers of prisoners on death row in the world.
Pillay had urged the Pakistani government to translate the moratorium into a more permanent ban and commute the sentences of several thousand prisoners on death row during her visit to the country in May this year.
While under military rule, Pakistan each year executed among the highest number of people of any country. For example, according to Amnesty International, in 2005 Pakistan sentenced more than 241 people to death and executed at least 31, the fifth highest total in the world.