NEW YORK: Pakistan’s government should reverse its decision to lift its moratorium on the death penalty for all capital crimes and move toward abolition, Human Rights Watch said.
On March 10, 2015, government officials confirmed that the Ministry of Interior had instructed provincial governments to proceed with executions according to law.
“The Pakistani government’s ill-conceived decision to completely abandon its death penalty moratorium puts thousands of lives at risk,” said Phelim Kine, deputy Asia director at Human Rights Watch. “Government approval of a potential nationwide execution spree is a knee-jerk reaction to a terrible crime rather than a considered response to legitimate security concerns.”
Pakistan has more than 8,000 prisoners on death row, one of the world’s largest populations of prisoners facing execution. Pakistani law mandates capital punishment for 28 offences, including murder, rape, treason, and blasphemy. Those on death row are often from the most marginalized sections of society, like Aasia Bibi, a Christian woman sentenced to death by the Lahore High Court on charges of blasphemy.
The government’s action follows Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif’s December 17, 2014 decision to rescind a four-year unofficial moratorium on capital punishment for non-military personnel “in terrorism related cases.”