No Mercy: A Report on Clemency for Death Row Prisoners in Pakistan

Date.11 Apr, 2018

  • In the last three years, Pakistan has executed almost 500 prisoners
  • In that time, the President of Pakistan has granted 0 requests for mercy or clemency including mentally ill and physically disabled prisoners, or prisoners with strong evidence of innocence
  • At least 513 mercy petitions have been rejected by the Presidency.

In failing to grant a pardon to even a single death row prisoner, Pakistan’s clemency process appears to have a blanket policy of denying all mercy petitions, new research by JPP and Yale’s Lowenstein Human Rights Project finds.

No Mercy: A Report on Clemency for Pakistan’s Death Row was launched at Ramada Hotel on April 11.
According to the Ministry of Interior, the President’s office rejected 513 mercy petitions of condemned prisoners over the last five years, 444 of which were in the fifteen months after the resumption of executions in Dec. 2014.
This is particularly alarming given that the Interior Ministry has also informally confirmed that the Government of Pakistan has a de facto policy in place to summarily reject all please of mercy.
Minister of Human Rights Mumtaz Ahmed Tarar will be delivering the keynote address, followed by remarks from Canadian High Commissioner Perry John Calderwood. There will also be a panel discussion from the mothers, children and wives of JPP’s clients on death row, all of which form compelling cases for a Presidential pardon. Instead, each of these prisoners have all come within inches of the gallows.
This includes Abdul Basit, a paraplegic on death row. At least three executions have been scheduled for him, despite jail authorities being unable to hang a man who cannot even stand. Paralyzed from the waist-down as a direct result of jail negligence, Basit lies on the jail floor with a colostomy bag that he cannot clean out himself, leaving him open to infections. He suffers from bedsores because he relies on neglectful guards to assist him with personal hygiene and to move him, which they do too infrequently.
Kanizan Bibi has been on death row for nearly three decades, during which her mental health has significantly deterioated. She is mute, unable to feed or clothe herself and rarely recognizes or responds to family members. Despite her wrongful conviction and the fact that international and Islamic law forbids the execution of the mentally ill, she remains in danger of an imminent execution. Similarly, Imdad Ali, with an extensive medical history of mental illness also continues to languish on death row.
Iqbal, a proven juvenile offender, has been incarcerated in a death cell for over twenty years. He remains on death row despite his minority.
83 percent of all executions and 89 percent of all death sentences handed out since Dec. 2014 have been in Punjab. Out of approximately 3,723 prisoners awaiting execution, mercy petitions of 41 (including woman) have been rejected as of July 2017. 382 prisoners have been executed in Punjab alone since Dec. 2014.
Mercy petitions of 74 prisoners remain pending with the President of Pakistan.
The cases examined in the report illustrate the systemic problems that Pakistan’s criminal justice system is mired in. Given these procedural failings, it is imperative that individuals on death row be provided with a fair and effective opportunity to seek pardon or commutation, and to introduce new and potentially exculpatory evidence.
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