Pakistan: first execution in four years scheduled for Saturday must be urgently commuted

The death sentence of Behram Khan, a Pakistan national, who is scheduled for execution in Karachi this Saturday must be urgently commuted Amnesty International said today. It would be the first execution in the country for four years. Khan was sentenced to death by an Anti-Terrorism Court on 23 June 2003 for the murder of lawyer Mohammad Ashraf.

Catherine Baber, Amnesty International’s Asia-Pacific Director, said:

“The execution of Behram Khan would be the first in Pakistan in nearly four years and would open the door to further executions. President Zardari must now act urgently to commute the death sentence of Behram Khan.”

Amnesty’s call for Khan’s death sentence to be commuted comes in the week that the death sentence of Indian national Sarabjit Singh was commuted after he had spent 20 years on death row in Pakistan, for a bombing in Punjab. Sarabjit Singh always proclaimed his innocence and filed five mercy petitions while on death row.  

Catherine Baber said:

“Not often does a man on death row for twenty years – more than a life term under Pakistan law – find himself walking free. President Ali Zardari’s decision to commute the death sentence of Sarabjit Singh, whose case was highly politicised, is a welcome strike against the inhumanity of the death penalty.

“Both Pakistan and the Indian authorities should commute all death sentences and introduce an official moratorium on executions as a first step towards abolition of the death penalty.”

Over 8,300 prisoners are currently under sentence of death in Pakistan.

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