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

Monday, August 3, 2015

Juvenile set to hang in Pakistan tonight despite international outcry

Shafqat Hussain
Shafqat Hussain
Shafqat Hussain, a Pakistani convicted and sentenced to death when under 18 following days of police torture, is set to hang tonight despite widespread calls for a stay and investigation into his case.

Shafqat was sentenced to death in 2004 following days of police torture, which extracted a ‘confession’ on which his conviction was based, despite being under 18 at the time.

The Pakistan government has refused to back a judicial inquiry into Shafqat’s juvenility – instead withholding a number of documents, most notably his school record, which would provide proof of his age.

A mercy petition is currently pending before the President.

Numerous calls have been made for the execution to be stayed, including from the statutory rights body the Sindh Human Rights Commission. The Commission, headed by a retired Supreme Court judge, urged the government to stay Shafqat's execution after conducting an extensive inquiry into the case. The SHRC wrote that “there are no eye witnesses [to the alleged offence] but only [the] confession of the accused with [an] allegation of torture.” They criticised previous handling of the case, writing “we fail to understand why [there was] such a careless handling of a serious case where [the] life of a human being is at stake,” and asking whether Shafqat can “be executed when there is so much confusion and the evidence is lacking.” They also criticised the initial government inquiry, carried out by the government’s Federal Investigation Authority, concluding that it was ‘not admissible’.

UN Special Rapporteurs – including experts on torture, summary executions, and children’s rights – have also called for a halt to Shafqat’s execution and have criticised Pakistan’s rush to execute more broadly. In a statement released last week they said that “most” of the hangings scheduled for the coming days “fall short of international norms”, and called on Pakistan “to continue the moratorium on actual executions and to put in place a legal moratorium on the death penalty, with a view to its abolition.”

Pakistan has the world’s largest death row of approximately 8500 people. Some 192 have been hanged since its moratorium on the death penalty was lifted in December, and it has overtaken Saudi Arabia and the US in rate of executions. The Pakistani government’s claim that it is executing ‘terrorists’ was called into question last week by a Reuters report finding that the vast majority of those executed – an estimated 70 per cent – had no links to militancy.

Commenting, Maya Foa, the Director of Reprieve’s death penalty team, said: “It is an absolute disgrace that Pakistan is still on course to hang Shafqat, who was convicted as a juvenile after days of brutal police torture. When will Pakistan’s government listen to the chorus of international and local voices calling for a stay in this case? The fact that the Government has so far ignored the recommendations of a statutory body like the Sindh Human Rights Commission is a shocking indictment of Pakistan’s attitude to human rights and the rule of law. This execution must be stayed before another juvenile is sent to the gallows.”

Source: Reprieve, August 3, 2015

Death row prisoner: 'I have been told I am going to be executed seven times'

Pakistan (CNN)I am alone in my cell now. Both my cellmates were hanged. I was sharing the cell with Muhammad Faisal and Muhammad Afzal. I had shared a cell with them for six or seven years.

I cannot even begin to explain what I went through when they were executed. I barely even had time to process their deaths because I myself was scheduled to be executed the next day.

I have been told I am going to be executed seven times. The first time was in 2013.

The first time I was told, I was very worried and perplexed. I felt very frustrated. At one point, I am told I am to die; the next thing I know, there is a stay. And I see a ray of hope. But then again, I am told I am going to die. You become a victim of psychological pressure.

Seven days notice of death

Condemned prisoners have a jailer assigned to come and give them this news. The jailer tells me on the day that the warrant is received at the jail, so I am told seven days in advance of the execution date.

When the jailer tells me that my execution date has been set, he separates me immediately from the other prisoners. I spend all seven days by myself in a cell in the barracks for prisoners about to be executed. They conduct a physical exam every one of those seven days. They weigh me every day, take my blood pressure and temperature as well.

On the last two days they also measure my height, my neck and my body for the clothes I am to wear when they hang me.

One day before my hanging, they tell me about my final visit with my family and that I need to execute my will. I cannot really say what I am thinking in those last seven days. My brain is thinking all sorts of things.

Source: CNN, Opinions, Shafqat Hussain, Special to CNN, August 3, 2015

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