Pakistan: death penalty moratorium completely lifted

Press release
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FIDH and and its member organisation in Pakistan, Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP), express their utmost concern over the recent decision of the Government of Pakistan to lift the moratorium on executions for all death penalty convicts.

Lifting the moratorium on the death penalty would be a terrible stain on Pakistan’s human rights record, said Karim Lahidji, President of FIDH. The death penalty is cruel, inhumane and degrading, may amount to torture, and should be abolished completely.

A communication was sent this week from Pakistan’s interior ministry to all provincial home secretaries, instructing the latter to carry out death penalties against death row prisoners who have exhausted all legal avenues for appeal or clemency. Following a Taliban attack against a school in Peshawar in December 2014, Pakistan announced that it would resume carrying out the death penalty for those convicted of terrorism charges, lifting its six-year moratorium on executions. 24 individuals have reportedly been executed in Pakistan since then. This recent announcement by the government would expand the resumption of executions to all death penalty crimes, putting hundreds of death row prisoners in Pakistan at imminent risk of execution.

Our organisations are dismayed that the general public sentiment over impunity for terrorists is being used to revive executions,” said Zohra Yusuf, Vice-President of FIDH and Chairperson of HRCP. We believe that the authorities are going after vengeance rather than justice, and we urge the government to consider the human cost of this decision.

Pakistan’s criminal justice system suffers from many flaws and irregularities, and is marked by arbitrary detentions, few standards for evidence needed to convict suspects, and little protection for lawyers and judges from threats and political pressure. In such a context, resuming executions would clearly be a violation of Pakistan’s international obligations to protect the right to life, and people’s right to a fair trial and to be treated with dignity.

FIDH and HRCP reiterate their firm opposition to the death penalty for all crimes and in all circumstances, as they consider it inhumane treatment and a violation of the inalienable right to life. FIDH and HRCP call on the Pakistani authorities to immediately repeal the decision to resume executions and reinstate the moratorium on executions for all crimes, with a view to abolish the death penalty altogether.

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