Texas Should Not Have Executed Robert Pruett

Update: Robert Pruett was executed by lethal injection on Thursday.
Robert Pruett is scheduled to be executed by the State of Texas Thursday. He has never had a chance to live outside a prison as an adult. Taking his life is a senseless wrong that shows how badly the justice system fails juveniles.
Mr. Pruett was 15 years old when he last saw the outside world, after being arrested as an accomplice to a murder committed by his own father. Now 38, having been convicted of a murder while incarcerated, he will be put to death. At a time when the Supreme Court has begun to recognize excessive punishments for juveniles as unjust, Mr. Pruett’s case shows how young lives can be destroyed by a justice system that refuses to give second chances.
Mr. Pruett’s father, Sam Pruett, spent much of Mr. Pruett’s early childhood in prison. Mr. Pruett and his three siblings were raised in various trailer parks by his mother, who he has said used drugs heavily and often struggled to feed the children. Wh…

Shafqat Hussain hanged in Karachi Central Jail

Shafqat Hussain
Shafqat Hussain
KARACHI: Shafqat Hussain, who was awarded a death sentence for kidnapping and later killing a seven-year-old boy, was hanged till death in Central Jail Karachi at 4:00 AM on Tuesday.

IG Prisons confirmed that Shafqat Hussain's execution has been performed.

Earlier, a team of doctors examined Shafqat Hussain's health and declared him to be well.

Later, Shafqat Hussain’s family was allowed to meet him for the last time.

An Anti-Terrorism Court (ATC) had issued Shafqat Hussain’s death warrant for the fifth time. Earlier, his sentence was postponed on four occasions.

Shafqat was sentenced in 2004 for the kidnapping and involuntary murder of a seven-year-old boy who lived in a Karachi apartment building where he worked as a security guard.

Confusion over Shafqat’s date of birth raised questions of whether he was a juvenile or of lawful age in 2004 when he was handed down the death sentence.

Last month the Islamabad High Court dismissed Shafqat's plea for a judicial inquiry into his age, and lifted the stay order, paving way for the execution of the death row convict.

Pakistan lifted a moratorium on capital punishment in December following a deadly attack by Taliban militants on Peshawar’s Army Public School which killed over 150 people, 134 of them children.

The moratorium, in force since 2008, was initially lifted only in terrorism cases, but in March the government extended it to all capital crimes.

Source: Geo News, August 4, 2015

Pakistan Hangs Inmate Said to Have Been Tortured Into Confessing

ISLAMABAD, Pakistan — A man whose lawyers said he had been tortured into confessing to murder, and who they said was a minor at the time of the crime, was hanged early Tuesday, despite pleas from rights groups in Pakistan and overseas.

The case of the man, Shafqat Hussain, had become a cause célèbre in Pakistan, where rights groups portrayed it as a stark example of the country’s flawed judicial system as they renewed calls for abolishing the death penalty. Since lifting a moratorium on executions in December, Pakistan has put more than 200 people to death, according to Amnesty International, a human rights group.

Mr. Hussain, a night watchman, was convicted in 2004 of killing a 7-year-old boy in Karachi, Pakistan’s largest city, after abducting him and demanding ransom. The conviction was based on Mr. Hussain’s confession to the police, but Justice Project Pakistan, a law firm specializing in human rights cases that took up Mr. Hussain’s case, said he had confessed only because he was tortured.

Advocates for Mr. Hussain have also said that he was under 18 when he was sentenced to die, which would have made him legally ineligible for the death penalty. The Pakistani Interior Ministry said that it had investigated that claim and found that he was 23 at the time.

Mr. Hussain was hanged in a prison in Karachi. He was allowed to see family members before the execution, prison officials said.

Mr. Hussain’s execution was delayed four times, most recently in June, amid the controversy surrounding his case. The Pakistani Supreme Court ruled in June that it could not overturn his conviction and that it could not interfere in the matter of Mr. Hussain’s age, because that issue had not been raised by his lawyers at trial.

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Source: The New York Times, Salman Masood, August 4, 2015

Pakistan executes Shafqat Hussain, sentenced to death as a juvenile

Shafqat Hussain was this morning executed in Pakistan, despite widespread calls both within and outside the country for a stay. The governments of the Sindh and Azad Kashmir regions, the Sindh Human Rights Commission (SHRC), UN experts, and international NGOs had all called for the hanging to be halted in order for an investigation to take place into Shafqat’s young age when he was sentenced, and the reliance by prosecutors on a “confession” extracted through torture.

Despite the calls, the Pakistan authorities have never undertaken a proper, judicial investigation into either issue, instead seizing and refusing to release key evidence such as Shafqat’s school record, which could have provided proof that he was under 18 when he was sentenced to death. The SHRC, headed by a former Supreme Court judge, questioned how he could “be executed when there is so much confusion and the evidence is lacking,” and declared the only inquiry carried out by the government into his age to be “inadmissible.”

Some of Shafqat’s final words, provided to CNN via his lawyers, were published earlier today. He described what it was like to have been told he was going to be executed seven different times, and the process of waiting for the hanging to take place.

“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.”

Maya Foa, director of the death penalty team at international human rights organisation Reprieve said:

“Shafqat’s execution speaks to all that is wrong with Pakistan’s race to the gallows. He faced a catalogue of injustice, sentenced to death while still a child after being tortured by the police until he produced a so-called confession. The government’s decision to push ahead with the execution despite calls to halt it from across Pakistan and around the world seems to have been more a show of political power than anything to do with justice. It is hard to see how anyone can now believe their claims that their enthusiastic resumption of hangings is anything to do with the safety and security of the country.”

Source: Reprieve, August 4, 2015

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