Lahore [Pakistan]: Pakistan has been the third most prolific executioner in the world for two consecutive years with 419 prisoners on death row already executed thus far.
It has been two years since the Pakistan Government lifted the suspension on the death penalty following the militant attack on Army Public School (APS) in Peshawar, reports the Dawn.
The government, while announcing the lifting of six-year-old moratorium on capital punishment as part of its National Action Plan, had said only those convicted of terrorism would be executed. But within three months, in March 2015, the moratorium was lifted across the board.
Though the move was celebrated initially as an “effective means” to curb terrorism, the government, later, did not publicly present a justification for lifting the moratorium across the board, said Rimmel Mohydin, the media and communications officer at the Justice Project Pakistan (JPP).
According to data collected by the JPP, only 16 percent of the executions carried out since December 2014 were related to terrorism while a significant number of those executed included juveniles and mentally and physically disabled inmates.
A press release issued by the JPP on Saturday said that in as many as 88 per cent of ‘terrorism’ cases, there was no link to a terrorist organisation or anything that could be reasonably defined as terrorism.
The press release said the NAP had correctly observed that there was a need to “revamp and reform Pakistan’s criminal justice system”. However no significant efforts had been made to do this so far.
This was compounded by the lack of a meaningful appellate process for capital cases, a blatant violation of Pakistan’s international human rights obligations.
Until March this year, the president had 444 pending mercy petitions while the known number of presidential pardons granted was zero.
“The justice system is rigged against those who need it the most,” said Mohydin.
The press release further said it was a dishonour to the memory of the APS attack victims for the state to take lives in their name, when they had no bearing on curbing the menace that caused their deaths.
Under Pakistani law, 27 crimes carry the death sentence, some of which include sabotaging the railway network and drug trafficking.
The press release added that an average of 258 death sentences were imposed each year between 2007 and 2015, explaining why the country had the highest populated death row in the world.
Pakistan’s faulty legal infrastructure remains inaccessible, corrupt, mired in red tape, beholden to power and usurped by influence and wealth, creating a permissive environment for the routine miscarriage of justice. (ANI)