FEATURED POST

America Is Stuck With the Death Penalty for (At Least) a Generation

Image
With Justice Anthony Kennedy's retirement, the national fight to abolish capital punishment will have to go local.
When the Supreme Court revived capital punishment in 1976, just four years after de facto abolishing it, the justices effectively took ownership of the American death penalty and all its outcomes. They have spent the decades since then setting its legal and constitutional parameters, supervising its general implementation, sanctioning its use in specific cases, and brushing aside concerns about its many flaws.
That unusual role in the American legal system is about to change. With Justice Anthony Kennedy’s retirement from the court this summer, the Supreme Court will lose a heterodox jurist whose willingness to cross ideological divides made him the deciding factor in many legal battles. In cases involving the Eighth Amendment’s prohibition against cruel and unusual punishment, his judgment often meant the difference between life and death for hundreds of death-row pr…

Pakistan top court seeks report on death row convicts

The top court directed the federal government on Tuesday to submit a report on the status of thousands of death row prisoners languishing in jails for years.

A 3-judge bench of the Supreme Court, headed by Justice Ejaz Afzal Khan, took up a petition filed by Barrister Zafarullah, who requested the court to convert the sentences of death row convicts into life imprisonment.

The petitioner also asked the SC to decide the fate of the condemned prisoners in view of the terms they have served and the various changes occurred since the Law Reforms Ordinance 1972.

Capital punishment is legal in Pakistan. There had been a moratorium on executions since 2008, but it was lifted for terrorism cases as of December 16, 2014, following the massacre of nearly 150 people, mostly pupils, at the Army Public School in Peshawar.

It has been reported that there are more than 6,000 death row prisoners in Pakistan - more than anywhere in the world. Pakistan has executed 239 death row convicts since the APS tragedy.

The bench directed Deputy Attorney General Sajid Ilyas Bhatti to file a report on the status of death row prisoners within 15 days.

Last year the SC - while dismissing a plea of the same petitioner against abolition of the death penalty in Pakistan - had observed that the right to life and liberty is not absolute in nature; such a right is, however, circumscribed and subject to law.

Justice Mian Saqib Nisar, while authoring the judgment, observed that the petitioner had referred to Article 9 of the Constitution, which says no person shall be deprived of life or liberty. But the court clarified that the right to life and liberty is not absolute in nature and a person cannot be bereft of his life and liberty except in accordance with the law.

Referring to Article 4(2)(a), the court said a person could be deprived of his life and liberty if it is provided and prescribed by any law.

The judgment also said the petitioner had failed to show the court that on the basis of 2 constitutional clauses, the top court could direct the abolition of the death penalty in Pakistan and annul any law.

Regarding the petitioner's argument that Article 9 was not properly worded, the parliament should make necessary amendment, said the judgment. "As regards the argument that the criminal justice system is unfair, unreasonable and convicts and death punishments lack due process, suffice it to say that this by itself is not a threshold or touchstone for striking down any law, rather if there is deficiency in the relevant law, it is the duty of parliament to provide it or correct the law by amendment."

Referring to Article 10-A, the court said that if any person is aggrieved on account of lack of fair trial or due process of law, he has the remedy of approaching the appropriate forum to challenge such a trial and conviction.

Source: The Express Tribune, Feb. 3, 2016

- Report an error, an omission: deathpenaltynews@gmail.com - Follow us on Facebook and Twitter

Most Viewed (Last 7 Days)

Texas: With a man's execution days away, his victims react with fury or forgiveness

Ohio executes Robert Van Hook

Texas executes Christopher Young

Texas Board of Pardons and Paroles rejects clemency for Chris Young

Saudi Arabia executes seven people in one day

20 Minutes to Death: Record of the Last Execution in France

Fentanyl And The Death Penalty

Execution date pushed back for Texas 7 escapee after paperwork error on death warrant

Ex-Aum member Yoshihiro Inoue’s last words: ‘I didn’t expect things to turn out this way’

Oklahoma: Death row inmate’s legal team hopes DNA testing on key piece of evidence will exonerate him before execution