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 heads for breach of international law after Supreme Court declines to intervene in hanging of mentally ill prisoner

Supreme Court justices dismissed the appeal, claiming that a large proportion of Pakistani prisoners suffer from mental illness.
"Supreme Court justices dismissed the appeal, claiming that a large
proportion of Pakistani prisoners suffer from mental illness."
Pakistan's Supreme Court today dismissed an appeal brought by lawyers for a severely mentally ill prisoner, who now faces execution in as little as a week's time. 

Lawyers for Imdad Ali, who has been diagnosed with schizophrenia, argued that he should not be executed as to do so would violate both Pakistani and international law. Mr Ali came within hours of execution last week, despite prison doctors having assessed him as being "insane", including on the night before the execution. 

Yet today, Supreme Court justices dismissed the appeal, claiming that a large proportion of Pakistani prisoners suffer from mental illness and they "cannot let everyone go." The judges conceeded that Imdad was mentally ill but concluded that they would dismiss the appeal because the case had already been considered by the Court and - in their view - nothing had changed. 

Mr Ali's execution received a last-minute stay from the Supreme Court last week, but with that stay now expired, he could receive a new 'black warrant' and face execution as early as next Tuesday (4 October). Just hours before his scheduled hanging last week, Mr Ali's severe mental illness meant he was unaware that he was due to be executed. 

The Pakistani Government is now the only body with the ability to halt Mr Ali's execution. Mr Ali’s lawyers have sent a mercy petition to Pakistan’s President Mamnoon Hussain with testimony from medical experts. The petition provides an array of medical evidence for the President to consider, such as a statement from psychiatric consultant Dr Feroze Khan, who examined Mr Ali’s mental health and recommended that he be transferred to a mental health facility for active psychiatric treatment. 

A statement issued by 14 of Pakistan’s leading psychiatrists also warns that executing Mr Ali would run contrary to Pakistani law. The experts, including Dr Malik Hussain Mubbasshar, Professor Emeritus at Lahore’s University of Health Sciences, said that: “[The] Law does not allow such execution of prisoners suffering from this nature of mental disorder in which the prisoner is having a psychotic illness and is unable to know why he is being executed and what will be the consequence of this punishment.” 

Mr Ali comes from an extremely poor family. His family began to notice signs of mental illness as long ago as 1998 – but they could not afford to pay for private medical assessments, which could have identified his mental illness, and possible treatments, earlier. Following his initial detention, his mental illness has been exacerbated by 14 years in overcrowded prison cells and lengthy periods of solitary confinement. 

Commenting, Harriet McCulloch, Deputy Director of the death penalty team at international human rights charity Reprieve said: "It is indisputable that Imdad suffers from serious mental illness. There is therefore no doubt that, should Pakistan execute him, it will be committing a grave violation of both Pakistani and international law. It is shocking that the system has failed Imdad at every turn - right the way up to the Supreme Court. The Pakistan Government must immediately halt Imdad's execution, and undertake a comprehensive review into how someone who is clearly mentally unfit to be executed has been allowed to come so near to the noose."

More information about Imdad Ali is available at the Reprieve website

Source: Reprieve, September 27, 2016. Reprieve is an international human rights organization. Reprieve’s London office can be contacted on: communications@reprieve.org.uk. Reprieve US, based in New York City, can be contacted on Katherine.oshea@reprieve.org

⚑ | Report an error, an omission; suggest a story or a new angle to an existing story; send a submission; recommend a resource; contact the webmaster, contact us: deathpenaltynews@gmail.com.


Opposed to Capital Punishment? Help us keep this blog up and running! DONATE!

Most Viewed (Last 7 Days)

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

Texas Board of Pardons and Paroles rejects clemency for Chris Young

Texas executes Christopher Young

Ohio executes Robert Van Hook

The Aum Shinrikyo Executions: Why Now?

Indonesia: Gay couple publicly whipped after vigilante mob drags them out of beauty salon

Saudi Arabia executes seven people in one day

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

Fentanyl And The Death Penalty

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