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Pakistan: Spate of imminent executions in wake of Mirza Hussain case

Call for moratorium on death penalty in Pakistan

On the day British-Pakistani dual national Mirza Hussain was due to be executed in Pakistan (1 June), Amnesty International has expressed fresh concern at nine executions set to take place imminently in the country and has called on President Musharraf to announce an immediate moratorium on the use of the death penalty.

Mirza Hussain, from Leeds, recently received a one-month stay over his execution, but Amnesty International and his family believe international pressure is still essential to try and stop his execution from taking place.

Meanwhile, Raja Anir, a 36-year-old man, was due to be executed on 29 May and his fate is still uncertain. Qamar Ali, a Pakistani man from the North West Frontier Province, was due to be executed on 25 May but received a stay of uncertain length. Amnesty International also has information that six men from Punjab are due to be executed on 6 June.

Amnesty International UK Campaigns Director Tim Hancock said:

“With Mirza Hussain’s life still effectively hanging in the balance and with a spate of imminent executions in the pipeline, President Musharraf must immediately announce a moratorium on the death penalty in Pakistan.

“The Pakistani justice system is riddled with serious deficiencies and should never allow executions.

“In our view the death penalty is always cruel and unnecessary and doesn’t deter crime, but in Pakistan it is being applied after deeply dubious trials.

“The only safe course of action is for Pakistan to follow the international trend toward abolition and immediately announce a halt to all executions.”

At least 241 people were sentenced to death in Pakistan in 2005, and at least 31 were executed - the fifth highest number in the world (1).

Many wealthier convicts have been able to escape punishment in Pakistan under provisions of the Qisas and Diyat Ordinance, which allows relatives of murder victims to accept compensation and pardon the offender. Amnesty International is concerned that such a justice system - that treats those found guilty of murder and the victims of homicide differently on the basis of the offender’s ability to pay and the victim’s family’s willingness to accept compensation - is arbitrary and breaches basic human rights law.

More than 7,200 people are on death row in Pakistan, often held in extremely over-crowded conditions. In some cases 12 death row prisoners are reportedly being held in 12-feet by nine-feet cells designed for one person. The method of execution is usually hanging.

Amnesty International supporters around the world are writing to the Pakistan authorities about the cases of the men facing imminent executions. There is information on how to take action at:

(1) Amnesty International’s research indicates that more than 2,148 people were executed around the world during 2005 (though these are only minimum figures). China executed at least 1,770 people; Iran executed at least 94 people; Saudi Arabia executed at least 86 people; the USA executed 60 people and Pakistan executed at least 31 people.

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