Lahore, November 20 (NIA): As many as 200 Pakistani convicts had been executed between December 2015, when executions were resumed after a seven year moratorium, and June 2016, available data reveal.
According to Express Tribune between January and June 2016, Punjab province had carried out the bulk of the executions (153). Sindh came next with 15; Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, 5; Balochistan, 5; and Mirpur Central Jail (AJK), 2. The BBC said that 20 executions were carried out in December 2015.
In the executions carried out in the first six months of 2016, 23 had been convicted for terrorism and 25 were tried under the Anti-Terrorism Act for heinous crimes including multiple murders, murder-robbery and gang rape.
The remaining 132 convicts were executed on orders passed by Additional District and Sessions Courts for crimes including robbery, kidnapping for ransom, rape, and murder to settle personal scores.
As many as 8,000 prisoners were languishing in various prisons of Pakistan waiting for black warrants to be issued – many of them had been in jail since the ’90s.
As many as 5,472 death row prisoners, including 47 women, were incarcerated in the 25 Punjab prisons. Of these, 44 had exhausted all avenues of appeal. Their fate lay in the hands of jail authorities who would decide when to obtain black warrants from the respective trial courts.
Appeals for clemency of 392 convicts were pending with the Pakistan President while one appeal was pending with the Army HQ. 875 appeals were pending before the Supreme Court and 4,162 appeals before Lahore High Court, Express Tribune said.
The moratorium on executions was lifted on orders of the Federal government on December 17, 2014, for terrorism-related cases after an attack on an Amy-run school in Peshawar. More than 150 people, all but nine of them children, died in the Taliban attack.
The massacre triggered national outrage, with people calling for the resumption of executions. The government later reinstated capital punishment for all death penalty offences.
However, since then, the United Nations, the European Union, the Amnesty International, the Human Rights Watch and several local rights organizations have urged the government to re-impose the moratorium on death penalty.
Opposing the re-imposition of the death penalty, “Justice Pakistan” Executive Director Sarah Belal told BBC: “We’ve seen time and time again that there is immeasurable injustice in Pakistan’s criminal justice system, with a rampant culture of police torture, inadequate counsel and unfair trials. Knowing this, the government has irresponsibly brought back capital punishment.”
Tipu Salman Makhdoom, an advocate of the Supreme Court, told Express Tribune that Pakistan had alienated itself in the comity of nations by lifting the moratorium on death sentence. He said several international human rights organizations had condemned the policy and Pakistan risked losing the Generalised System of Preferences (GSP) Plus status.
“Our criminal justice system is marred by police torture, poor legal representation, and unfair trials…these are some of the reasons behind the barrage of criticism against death penalty.” Makhdoom said.
There were also cases which failed to meet international standards for fair trial – these include cases in which the police adds Section 7 of the Anti Terrorism Act to First Information Reports that have nothing to do with terrorism.
“Yet the courts do not question this practice. Frequently, confessions are obtained through torture,” Makhdoom said.