Pakistan: Amnesty to hold vigil against the death penalty

Imminent execution of Indian national puts barbaric punishment into focus

Amnesty International UK and the Parliamentary All Party Panjabis in Britain Group will be holding a vigil outside the Pakistan High Commission in central London on Wednesday 23 April to voice their concerns over the continuing use of the death penalty in Pakistan.

The vigil comes just a week before the planned execution of a man who has been held on death row in Kal Lokhpot Jail near Lahore for 18 years. There is concern that it could be a case of mistaken identity.

The Pakistani authorities believe the man to be Manjit Singh, however his family and the Indian authorities believe the prisoner is actually a man called Sarabjut Singh, a Punjabi farmer from Bihkiwind, who accidentally strayed across the Line of Control into Pakistani territory.

He was convicted and sentenced in 1991 for involvement with bomb attacks in Lahore and Faisalabad that killed 14 people in 1990.

Amnesty International UK’s Director, Kate Allen, said:

“The death penalty is abhorrent in all circumstances – and in this case there is the added complication that they may have the wrong man. There is no reprieve from the grave.

“We are calling on the Pakistani authorities to commute the death sentence in this case under Article 45 of the Constitution – and to take steps to implement an immediate moratorium on all executions. There are currently an astonishing 7,200 people on death row in Pakistan.

“Globally, there is a real momentum towards the abolition of the death penalty. A total of 133 states have abolished it in law or in practice – and only 25 countries carried out executions in 2006. Sadly Pakistan was one of those 25.”

John McDonnell MP, a member of the All Party Panjabis in Britain Group, added:

“We are appealing to the Pakistan authorities not only to step back from the brink on this case which puts Mr Singh’s life at risk but also to take a major progressive step forward and join all those other countries across the world in abolishing the death penalty.”

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