Use of capital punishment in Pakistan - World Day Against Death Penalty 2022

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Muhammad Reza / Anadolu Agency / Anadolu Agency via AFP

10 October 2022. To mark the 20th World Day Against the Death Penalty, the International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH) and its member organisation, the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP) join the World Coalition Against the Death Penalty by publishing a briefing note on the use of capital punishment in Pakistan. World Day on 10 October 2022 is dedicated to reflect on the relationship between the use of the death penalty and torture or other cruel, inhuman, and degrading treatment or punishment. 

FIDH and HRCP have been monitoring and analysing developments concerning the use of capital punishment in Pakistan for several decades. This briefing note provides an overview of the use of the death penalty in Pakistan from 2019 to the end of August 2022. 

During this period, the number of death sentences and executions decreased considerably. Between January 2015 and August 2019, 2,454 people were sentenced to death. From August 2019 to August 2022 the number dropped to 657. Between January 2015 and December 2019, 508 death row prisoners were executed. From January 2020 to August 2022 no executions were carried out. The end of the jurisdiction of Pakistan’s 11 military courts after March 2019 and the high number of Supreme Court acquittals of defendants facing the death penalty may explain these developments. However, 32 offenses across 11 distinct pieces of legislation are still punishable by death, and Pakistan remains among the countries with the largest number of individuals under death sentence. According to the most recent official figures available, at the end of December 2021, 1,143 prisoners were on death row.

After a joint mission to Pakistan was conducted in 2006, the following year FIDH and HRCP published Slow March to the Gallows: Death Penalty in Pakistan, their first report on this subject. In 2018, FIDH and HRCP conducted a second mission to Pakistan, which looked at developments related to the death penalty over the previous decade, and published the report Punished for being vulnerable: How Pakistan executes the poorest and the most marginalised in society in October 2019. The report concluded that death sentences in Pakistan are often the result of a combination of structural flaws inherent to the criminal justice system, including a weak prosecutorial system, and an underfunded law enforcement system.

With this year’s 20th World Day Against the Death Penalty focusing on the link between capital punishment and torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment, it is worth reflecting on the growing recognition that the death penalty is incompatible with the prohibition of torture under international law.

Read the briefing note (in english only):

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