ISLAMABAD, 27 OCTOBER 2016: Chairman of the National Commission for Human Rights (NCHR), Justice Ali Nawaz Chowhan (R) today raised a plea on behalf of Imdad Ali before the Functional Committee of the Senate on Human Rights.

Justice Chowhan proposed that “recommendations be made to His Excellency [President Mamnoon Hussain] by the Committee to order withholding of the death warrants of Imdad Ali until all facts pertaining to his mental disease, jurisprudence on punishment relating to schizophrenia and international consequences are considered.”

The Committee considered this view and will be raising the plea before President Mamnoon Hussain. Sen. Farhatullah Babar also extended his support to stay Imdad’s execution in view of his ill health.

The NCHR had also written to the Punjab Prison Authorities earlier this month, inquiring into Imdad’s case, asking if the jail authorities had “examined the prisoner regarding his mental health for him to be declared fit for execution.”

The death warrant for Imdad was issued by the Sessions Court upon the request of the Provincial government. He will be executed on Wednesday, 2 November 2016. 

The Federal Ministry of Human Rights has also sent a letter advising the Secretary, Interior Ministry to stay the execution on humanitarian grounds.

Imdad was 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 judgment, authored by the Chief Justice himself, referred to an Indian case from the 1980s, which says ‘“schizophrenia is what schizophrenia does.”’

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

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, Justice Project Pakistan adds: “We welcome Justice Chowhan’s timely plea to save Imdad’s life. As the Chairman of the independent statutory body entrusted with guarding human rights and interpreting and implementing international law, the NCHR’s intervention in Imdad’s case is significant. The Senate Human Rights Committee must fulfil their obligations and raise the issue with President Mamnoon Hussain at the earliest, as the time to save Imdad is fast running out. The state must do what it can to prevent this gross violation of Islamic and international law.”


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)