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

Thursday, October 8, 2015

Over 6000 death row prisoners in Pakistan

There are now more than 6000 death row prisoners in Pakistan - more than anywhere in the world - new government figures have revealed.

According to the Minister of State for Interior Baleeghur Rahman, 6016 death row convicts are imprisoned in various jails across the country. He informed the Senate that the process for execution of the convicts who had availed of all legal options and whose mercy petitions had also been rejected continue as per law since Dec 17 last year, the month chosen by the terrorists to attack Army Public School in Peshawar.

Capital punishment is legal in Pakistan. There had been a moratorium on executions since 2008, but the moratorium was lifted for terrorism related cases as of 16 December 2014, following the massacre of 132 students and 9 members of staff of the Army Public School Peshawar.

The executions are now part of the National Action Plan, a comprehensive strategy to deal with the terrorist elements in the country. The last such prisoner, Mohammad Aslam, was executed in the Bahawalpur jail last month. According to the interior ministry, a total of 588 people were killed and 1,007 injured in 821 acts of terror in the country in first 8 months of the year 2015. As of September 2015, Pakistan has executed 239 death row prisoners since 2014 Peshawar school massacre.

The European Union (EU) had sharply reacted over lifting of the moratorium on the death penalty in the country and has demanded its immediate restoration, which had been in place since 2008. Pakistan along with the United States and Yemen have raised the minimum age to 18 in law to be eligible for execution.

Pakistan death row cells, often measuring 8ft x 12ft, were originally designed to hold one or two prisoners but now typically hold more than six condemned inmates each. Prisoners are confined to these small cells for up to 23 hours per day. They suffer from inadequate nutrition, sanitation and lack of exercise. The Federal Shariat Court of Pakistan has recognised the serious human rights violations suffered by Pakistani condemned prisoners. As a partial remedy, the court declared that condemned prisoners may only be transferred to a death row cell after the death sentence is confirmed by a High Court, rather than directly following a trial court conviction. Unfortunately, this still means that a prisoner may spend upwards of ten to twelve years on death row awaiting execution.

Source: The Nation, October 8, 2015

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