LAHORE, Oct. 29 2016: Saroop Ijaz, Pakistan representative for Human Rights Watch has called for President Mamnoon Hussain to halt the execution of Imdad Ali, scheduled to take place in Vehari Jail on Nov. 2, 2016.

“The Supreme Court decision on October 21, 2016 refusing to halt Imdad Ali’s execution is deeply problematic and extremely disappointing,” he added.

Imdad has been diagnosed with paranoid schizophrenia, and a 2013 medical report stated him to be “insane.” His most recent medical reports in September and October find him to be suffering from psychotic symptoms actively and a psychiatrist at the prison has deemed him “a treatment-resistant case.”

Sentenced to death in 2001 over a shooting, Imdad has spent 14 years on death row, with 3 years in solitary confinement in the jail hospital due to his schizophrenia.

Last week, Pakistan’s Supreme Court ruled that schizophrenia does not qualify as a mental disorder under the Mental Health laws, clearing the way to execute a deeply unwell man who suffers from the debilitating condition.

“The Court failed to acknowledge that punishing an individual who is not aware of the punishment that he or she is being administered not only serves no criminal justice aims but is also an affront to basic human decency. The Court’s categorization of schizophrenia as a “recoverable” condition without going in to the basic question of executing people with mental disability is a misreading of medical jurisprudence on the question and is in conflict with international principles. The execution of Imdad Ali will be a travesty and set a very dangerous precedent,” says Ijaz.

“Imdad Ali’s execution will be a representative example of the inherent cruelty of the death penalty and of longstanding, systemic problems within Pakistan’s criminal justice system.”

Pakistan has signed international agreements which prohibit the execution of mentally ill prisoners – but despite this, Imdad will be hanged next week.

“The President has an opportunity to intervene and prevent the odious practice of sending people with psycho-social disabilities to the gallows from becoming a precedent. The government should focus on providing adequate medical care and support for individuals like Imdad; not on killing them,” says the HRW representative.

A mercy petition was filed by Imdad’s family and his lawyers to President Mamnoon Hussain on 19 September. It remains pending with his office.

Sarah Belal, Executive Director of Justice Project Pakistan adds: “Imdad’s execution puts the lives of all mentally ill prisoners on death row at risk, severely compromising Pakistan’s compliance with its international human rights obligations. Justice isn’t being served if the person being punished does not understand why he’s at the gallows. President Mamnoon Hussain must recognize this, and do everything he can to halt this execution.”

Editor’s Notes

1. Justice Project Pakistan (JPP) is a human rights organization that provides pro bono legal representation to the most vulnerable Pakistani prisoners facing the harshest punishments. Our clients include those facing the death penalty, the mentally ill, victims of police torture and detainees of the ‘War on Terror’. JPP was established in December 2009 and is based in Lahore, Pakistan.
2. For details contact: Wassam Waheed (+92 346 9177771) or Rimmel Mohydin (+92 321 4224941)