Pakistan: Urgent appeal to halt the execution of 'juvenile offender' tomorrow

Pakistan must immediately halt the imminent execution of a man who maintains he was a juvenile at the time of his alleged crime and who claims to have been tortured into a “confession” Amnesty International said on the eve of his scheduled execution.

The case of Shafqat Hussain, who was convicted and sentenced to death for kidnapping and involuntary manslaughter in 2004, has caused enormous controversy in Pakistan. His execution has been stayed three times, most recently on 6 May, when it was stopped at the eleventh hour after a public outcry, pending an investigation into his age and the torture allegations.

Despite concerns about the fairness of that investigation, Shafqat Hussain is set to be sent to the gallows tomorrow.

Amnesty International’s Deputy Asia Pacific Director David Griffiths said:

“Shafqat has now spent 11 years in prison after allegedly being tortured into a ‘confession’, with the threat of death constantly hanging over him.

“President Mamnoon Hussain now has a chance to avoid a travesty of justice by staying Shafqat’s execution and granting his mercy petition – he must do so before it is too late.

“The state has failed to prove definitively that Shafqat was over 18 years of age at the time of his alleged crimes. Sentencing a juvenile offender to death, let alone executing him, is a clear violation of both international and Pakistani law.

“Pakistan is fast turning into one of the world’s top executioners. While Amnesty International opposes the death penalty in all circumstances, Shafqat Hussain’s case points to the many issues in the justice system that makes its use so troubling in Pakistan.”

A previous inquiry into Shafqat Hussain's age and the allegations of torture, carried out by the Federal Investigation Agency, which concluded in April was marred with reports that government officials had intimidated witnesses and confiscated evidence during the inquiry. The Islamabad High Court had previously suggested that the inquiry was “prima facie illegal” as the Federal Investigation Agency was not the appropriate body to carry out the investigation.

Shafqat Hussain was first sentenced death for kidnapping and involuntary manslaughter under the Anti-Terrorism Act in 2004 by an anti-terrorism court in Sindh province. He has repeatedly claimed that he was beaten and electrocuted into “confessing” and the only known documentary evidence available shows he was a juvenile at the time of the crimes he was convicted of.

In an open letter yesterday, Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch, Reprieve and three other organisations urged President Mamnoon Hussain to grant clemency to Shafqat Hussein.

Amnesty is calling the authorities in Pakistan to stop the execution at www.amnesty.org.uk
       
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