HRCP calls for staying planned executions; abolishing death penalty
LAHORE: Expressing grave concern over reports that a murder convict is set to be hanged in Rawalpindi’s Adiala Jail on September 18, the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP) has urged the government to stay the hanging and announce a formal moratorium on executions.
In a statement on Thursday, HRCP Chairperson Zohra Yusuf said: “The HRCP has received with great alarm and dismay reports that Shoaib Sarwar, a death row prisoner currently detained in Haripur Prison, is set to be hanged in Adiala Jail on September 18.”
She said that the convict was given death sentence on July 2, 1998 for murdering a man named Awais Nawaz in Wah Cantonment in 1996.
The victim’s brother moved the high court against delay in implementation of the sentence despite exhaustion of all appeals by the convict and rejection of his clemency plea by the president. The high court ordered the district and sessions judge to implement the execution of the sentence.
Zohra Yousaf further said that the last execution of a civilian death row prisoner in the country had taken place in 2008 and executions have since been suspended.
“The HRCP wishes to remind the government that the reasons that have caused the stay of executions since 2008 have not changed. These include the well-documented deficiencies of the law, flaws in administration of justice and investigation methods and chronic corruption. In view of these factors, capital punishment allows for a high probability of miscarriage of justice, which is wholly unacceptable in a civilised society, particularly because the punishment is irreversible. Despite the informal stay of executions, capital punishment remains on statute books for 28 offences, and courts continue to award death sentences.”
The HRCP chairperson said that against this backdrop, Sarwar’s planned execution on September 18 was a regressive step and raised concerns at several levels. The convict’s relatives have once again appealed to the president to overturn the sentence and are also trying to settle the issue through payment of blood money.
The HRCP chairperson urged the government to immediately halt the scheduled execution along with any other execution that might be under consideration and make the informal suspension of executions formal without further delay. “We also urge the president to favourably consider mercy petitions and convert capital punishments to life imprisonments.”
She demands that the government take urgent measures towards abolition of capital punishment, including deletion of the death penalty from the statute book, at least for all but the most serious offences.
She also urged the government to sign the Optional Protocol to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, aimed at abolition of death penalty. The HRCP also urged parliamentarians, political parties and civil society organisations to join the campaign for abolition of death penalty and enhance respect for the right to life in this country.