WITH THRICE AS MANY DEATH SENTENCES, HANGING FEWER PEOPLE DOES NOT INDICATE GENUINE REFORM: JPP
LAHORE, 11 April 2017: Even though Pakistan carried out fewer executions in 2016, it sentenced nearly three times more people to death than the year before, Amnesty International’s Death Sentences and Executions revealed today.
According to the 2016 edition of Amnesty International’s worldwide report on the death penalty, Pakistan reduced the number of executions by 73 percent as compared to the year before. While we welcome this development, it is alarming that the number of recorded death sentences rose to over 360 as compared to the 121 death sentences in 2015.
The scope of the death penalty cannot be reduced by simply hanging fewer prisoners. This can only be done by actually carrying out genuine reform at the structural level of Pakistan’s criminal justice system.
This year alone, Pakistan will have to answer for its implementation of the death penalty before three United Nations Treaty Bodies as well as undergo its Universal Periodic Review. Starting with the Convention Against Torture on April 18, the Government of Pakistan will have to account for its failure to comply with its international human rights obligations. Pakistan continues to retain one of the highest populated death rows in the world, primarily because the safeguards that should prevent death sentences from being imposed on juvenile offenders, mentally ill and disabled prisoners, or those tortured into false confessions, are simply not adhered to.
Moreover, in Pakistan, the death penalty is not an exceptional measure. Under the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), ratified by Pakistan in 2010, a “sentence of death may be imposed only for the most serious crimes.” The U.N. Human Rights Committee maintains that the term ‘most serious crimes’ must be read restrictively to mean that the death penalty should be an exceptional measure. And yet, there are 27 death-eligible crimes in Pakistani law including non-lethal crimes like apostasy, adultery and railway sabotage.
Together with Saudi Arabia, Iraq and Pakistan it carried out 87 percent of the global total of 1032 executions worldwide.
JPP Executive Director, Sarah Belal adds: “The Government of Pakistan recognizes that there is a problem, that our criminal justice system is riddled with structural problems. The stopgap method of hanging fewer people is not enough. It is time for the stakeholders to commit to genuine reform, and until it does, to restore the moratorium on the death penalty.”
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), Rimmel Mohydin (+92 321 4224941) or Muhammad Shoaib (+92 333 4913629).
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