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Pakistan: Urgent call to halt execution of death row prisoner with mental illness

‘Pakistan is clearly in breach of international human rights standards that protect people with mental illnesses’ -  Champa Patel

Pakistan must not execute Imdad Ali, a death row prisoner with a history of mental illness, Amnesty International said today, ahead of an execution suspension hearing.

Tomorrow, the Supreme Court will hold a hearing to decide whether to suspend Imdad Ali’s execution warrant on the grounds of mental health. If the Supreme Court rejects the petition to suspend the execution warrant, a new date for execution can be set immediately.

Imdad Ali was convicted of the murder of a religious teacher in 2002. In 2012, he was diagnosed as suffering from paranoid schizophrenia, a condition the doctor who examined him described as “a chronic and disabling psychiatric illness.” Dr. Naeemullah Leghari, the head of psychiatry at Nishtar Hospital in the central Pakistani city of Multan, added that Imdad Ali’s illness “impairs the person’s rational thinking and decision-making capabilities.”

Last year, the Pakistani Supreme Court rejected an earlier appeal in his case, ruling that there was no evidence of his mental disability. However, the Supreme Court’s judgment shows that Imdad Ali’s lawyer had not included the 2012 medical report diagnosing him with paranoid schizophrenia as evidence. That oversight raises fair trial concerns.

Champa Patel, Amnesty International’s South Asia Director, said:

“With this warrant to execute Imdad Ali, Pakistan is clearly in breach of international human rights standards that protect people with mental illnesses and ensure that they are never subject to this cruel and irreversible punishment.

“The minority of the world’s countries that still resort to the death penalty can only do so in line with international human rights standards. This includes the prohibition against executing people with mental illness. Imdad Ali should not be subjected to this cruel punishment.”

Pakistan is the world’s third most prolific executioner, after China and Iran. Pakistan has executed more than 400 people since a moratorium on executions was lifted in December 2014. Some of the prisoners executed were juveniles at the time of the offence they were convicted for, or had a mental disability.

In Pakistan many death sentences are handed down after trials that do not meet international fair trial standards and violate Article 10(A) of Pakistan’s constitution, which calls for a fair trial and due process for the determination of a person’s civil rights and obligations in any criminal charge.


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