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Pakistan: Execution of paraplegic man tomorrow would be 300th in less than a year

“Pakistan’s ongoing zeal for executions is an affront to human rights”  - David Griffiths

  • Pakistan resumed death penalty use last December following Peshawar school massacre
  • 45 executed in October – deadliest month so far

Pakistan will imminently execute the 300th person since it lifted a moratorium on the death penalty less than a year ago, shamefully sealing its place among the world’s top three executioners, Amnesty International said today.

Tomorrow, the country is set to execute Abdul Basit, a paraplegic man who developed tubercular meningitis (TB) while on death row. His execution has been postponed several times as a result of disputes over how to carry out the killing, given that the prison has no rules on how to hang someone who cannot stand on the scaffold.

Abdul Basit, who is paralysed from the waist down, was convicted of murder six years ago but has always maintained his innocence. His execution was originally due to be carried out on 29 July 2015, but the Lahore High Court stayed his execution at the last minute, after a petition was filed by his lawyers arguing his hanging would constitute cruel and inhuman punishment.

Abdul Basit became paralysed in 2010 due to the inhumane conditions in which he was kept in Central Jail Faisalabad, and was not given sufficient healthcare after being diagnosed with TB meningitis, leading to severe spinal cord damage.

In December 2014, Pakistan resumed executions after a six year pause with the government claiming it was necessary to fight terrorism.

David Griffiths, Amnesty’s South Asia Research Director, said:

“Pakistan’s ongoing zeal for executions is an affront to human rights and the global trend against the death penalty.

"Even if the authorities stay the execution of Abdul Basit, a man with paraplegia, Pakistan is still executing people at a rate of almost one a day.

“Not only are these relentless executions casting a large shadow over Pakistan’s human rights record, they are also ill-conceived. There is no evidence to suggest they have successfully countered the terrorism threat in the country. Indeed, prison officials told Amnesty International that the banned Lashkar-e-Jhangvi group distributed sweets to celebrate the ‘martyrdom’ of one their members executed in prison.”

Amnesty has recorded 299 executions to date, based on publicly-reported figures. In October alone, 45 executions were recorded, making it the deadliest month since the moratorium was lifted. A majority of those executed so far were not convicted of offences related to terrorism, even though it was a Taliban massacre – of mostly schoolchildren in Peshawar last December – that prompted the authorities to lift the official moratorium on executions which had been in place since 2008.

The moratorium was initially lifted for terrorism-related offences only – but within months, executions for a wider range of crimes were being carried out.

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