Pakistan: Unprecedented wave of executions underway, including of juvenile offenders

Press release
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FIDH and its member organisation in Pakistan, the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP), express our very serious concern and condemnation of the wave of executions that have taken place in Pakistan since the complete lifting of the moratorium on the death penalty last week.

This sudden and shocking wave of executions puts a terrible stain on Pakistan’s human rights record,” said Karim Lahidji, President of FIDH. The authorities must reinstate the moratorium on the death penalty immediately.

In the 8 days between March 10th and today, 15 executions have taken place. Of these, 12 have taken place in the past two days alone. This rate of executions is unprecedented, and shows no signs of stopping, as 40 more hangings are scheduled to take place in the coming seven days.

Five of these upcoming executions are scheduled for tomorrow, Thursday 19 March, including the execution of juvenile offender Shafqat Hussain. There is publicly-available evidence that Mr. Hussain was a minor at the time of his supposed crime, including his birth certificate. Mr. Hussain was previously scheduled to be executed on 14 January 2015, but the execution was stayed after an intervention by the Minister of the Interior calling for a full inquiry into Mr. Hussain’s age at the time of his arrest. However, no such inquiry has ever taken place.

Mr. Hussain’s conviction violates international law, including Pakistan’s obligation under the Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC) which prohibits state parties from imposing the capital punishment for offences supposedly committed by a person below eighteen years of age,” stated Zohra Yusuf, Vice-President of FIDH and Chairperson of HRCP. We call on the government to immediately halt his execution and inquire into his case as promised.

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. We call on the Pakistani authorities to immediately halt all executions and reinstate the moratorium on the death penalty for all crimes. In particular, we urgently call on the authorities to halt the execution of Shafqat Hussain and to undertake an inquiry into his and all death penalty cases potentially involving juvenile offenders.

Background information : Between 16 December 2014 and 10 March 2015, 24 people were executed. This followed the partial lifting of the moratorium on the death penalty specifically for people convicted of terrorist activities. This decision was taken by the authorities after the Taliban attacked a school in Peshawar killing more than 100 children.

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