Put an end to spate of executions: Amnesty tells Pakistan

Saturday, Jan 17, 2015,19:06 IST By metrovaartha A A A

London | Taking exception to the spate of execution of terrorists following the Peshawar school attack, a top human rights group has asked Pakistan to end this immediately as being tough on crime by carrying out more killings is never an answer to combatting violence. Since a moratorium on executions was lifted on December 17, Pakistan has threatened to send around 500 death row prisoners convicted on terrorism charges to the gallows.
Pakistan has carried out a number of executions in the last one month. The killing spree that is unfolding in Pakistan must end immediately. As horrific as the Peshawar attack was, proving you are tough on crime by carrying out more killings is never the answer to combating violence, said David Griffiths, Amnesty International’s Deputy Asia Pacific Director. The government should immediately reinstate a moratorium on executions with a view to the eventual abolition of the death penalty, said Griffiths.
While Amnesty International opposes the death penalty in all circumstances, its use in Pakistan is even more troubling since many death sentences are handed down after manifestly unfair trials, he said.  Frequent use of torture to extract ‘confessions’, a lack of access to legal counsel and long periods of detention without charge are just some of our concerns, said Griffiths.
Judges are also under pressure to conclude trials within seven working days, Griffiths said. Over the past weeks, Pakistan has amended its constitution to speed up the prosecution of terror cases and move them from civilian to military courts. The jurisdiction of military courts over cases of terrorism raises serious concerns about fair trial guarantees, as rights could be violated in the rush to ensure speedy terrorism convictions.

Pak hangs militant, 20th execution since moratorium lifted
Lahore | Pakistan today hanged a militant of a banned anti-Shiite outfit here after a court rejected a compromise and upheld the death penalty awarded to him, taking the number of executions in the country since the lifting of the moratorium on capital punishment to 20.
Ikramul Haq, alias Lahori, was hanged in Kot Lakhpat Jail here after the court rejected the compromise reached by his family with the kin of the person he murdered. Haq was linked to the Sipah-i-Sahaba Pakistan (SSP) militant group and was involved in the murder of a Shiite man Nayyar Abbas in 2001 in Shorkot area of Jhang, Punjab Province.
An anti-terrorism court in Faisalabad had awarded the death sentence to him in 2004 and his death warrant was issued on January 6, 2014, after President Mamnoon Hussain turned down his mercy appeal. He was scheduled to be hanged on January 8 but the execution was delayed after a compromise with Abbas’ family.
Later, it emerged that out of eight family members of Abbas, only two of his brothers and a sister had made the agreement to pardon him. The court rejected the compromise and upheld its decision of death sentence to the convict. Strict security measures were in place in and around Kot Lakhpat Central Jail at the time of execution.
Pakistan resumed executions after lifting moratorium in the wake of attack at the Peshawar school massacre that left 150 people dead, mostly students, last month. So far, 20 prisoners have been executed. There are more than 8,000 death row prisoners in the country.