"One is absolutely sickened, not by the crimes that the wicked have committed, but by the punishments that the good have inflicted." - Oscar Wilde

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Execution of paraplegic Pakistani stayed by Punjab authorities

Abdul Basit
Abdul Basit
The hanging of a paralyzed Pakistani man, which had been expected to take place before dawn today (local time) has not gone ahead, after a magistrate issued a last-minute stay of execution.

Abdul Basit, who has been paralyzed from the waist down since contracting meningitis in jail and receiving inadequate treatment, was due to be hanged by around 05:30 local time / 00:30 GMT today (Tuesday 22 September). 

Basit’s lawyers at Justice Project Pakistan had raised concerns that, because Pakistan’s Prison Rules do not provide for the hanging of people unable to stand, his execution could have been botched, resulting in prolonged suffering. It would therefore have violated both the prison rules and the country’s ban on cruel and unusual punishment.

Pakistan’s Supreme Court handed down an order yesterday which stated that the hanging must comply with the prison rules – something described by human rights organization Reprieve as an “impossible task,” given the absence of any provision for hanging someone who requires a wheelchair. Around an hour before the hanging was due to take place, the judicial magistrate responsible for supervising it issued a stay, on the basis that prison officials believed the execution could not be carried out without violating the rules.

A further decision on how to proceed in Basit's case now rests with the provincial government of Punjab.

Commenting, Kate Higham, Pakistan caseworker at Reprieve, said: “It is welcome that the Punjab government has apparently seen sense and stopped this hanging from going ahead. There was a real risk that Basit could have faced horrific, prolonged torment – violating both the prison’s own rules and Pakistan’s ban on cruel and unusual punishment. The Punjab government is to be congratulated on their humane and just decision to stay Basit’s execution.”

- Pakistan’s execution protocols can be found in its jail manual, here, while a recent report by the Pakistani medical board into Abdul Basit’s condition can be found here.

- Further details on Abdul Basit’s case can be found in a petition for mercy submitted by his lawyers to the President of Pakistan, here.

Source: Reprieve, September 22, 2015


Pakistan delays execution of paraplegic man Abdul Basit

Authorities acknowledge that as Abdul Basit was unable to stand on the gallows, it was impossible to carry out the execution according to prison rules

A paraplegic man on Pakistan’s death row has received a last-minute execution reprieve because he could not stand on the gallows for the noose to be placed around his neck.

Abdul Basit, 43, paralysed after contracting tubercular meningitis in prison, was scheduled to be executed at dawn on Tuesday for a murder that he denied committing.

But although the Supreme Court dismissed his last legal appeal on Monday, the execution was postponed by Faisalbad jail authorities on Tuesday morning.

They acknowledged that as Basit was unable to stand on the gallows, it was impossible to carry out the execution according to prison rules. This complaint was at the centre of his legal team’s court appeal as experts warned that he could face a particularly grisly death if he was hanged from his wheelchair.

It was not immediately clear if the hanging was just delayed or his case was being reviewed.

A prison source said told The Telegraph: “It was not possible to kept the paralysed Abdul Basit standing on the whiteboard of the gallows during execution. So this execution was halted and the jail management will submit a detail reported about this issue to the Supreme and High Court to seek fresh orders”.

Critics had said that Basit’s execution would have represented a shocking new low in Pakistan’s executions policy, breaching the country’s ban on “cruel and inhumane punishment”.

Amid the flurry of unsuccessful last-ditch appeals, there was speculation that Basit Abdul would be hanged direct from his wheelchair because he would be unable to mount the scaffold.

Campaigners said that any attempt to hang Basit could see him either facing decapitation or prolonged strangulation as the procedures set out in prison rules for assessing the length of rope only cover prisoners able to stand.

Basit’s lawyers and international human rights groups had urged the Pakistani president to use his powers to halt the execution after their final defeat in the courts.

He was expected to become the 240th person to be executed after Pakistan lifted a moratorium in response to last December’s Peshawar school massacre, when Taliban militants gun down around 130 children.

Basit, a father–of-two, was paralysed from the waist down after contracting tubercular meningitis in prison in 2010.

The former administrator at a medical college was convicted in May 2009 of the murder of the uncle of a woman with whom he was allegedly in a relationship. He has always maintained his innocence.

On Monday, his mother Nusrat Perveen publicly begged the Pakistani government to stop the hanging, “Who says that this is justice?” she said. “How can they do this to a paralysed man? Please have mercy on my son.”

Under Pakistani prison guidelines, a condemned prisoner is required to stand on the gallows in order to be hanged so that officials can gauge how much rope is required.

Despite court orders, officials did not reveal in advance how they were plannig to execute a man who cannot support his own body weight.

“Basit's hanging would be a grotesque spectacle and cruel injustice,” Maya Foa, director of the death penalty team at the human rights group Reprieve, said earlier.

Click here to read the full article

Source: The Telegraph, September 22, 2015

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