HRW ASKS PAK GOVT TO ABOLISH CAPITAL PUNISHMENT
June 17, 2008: an international human rights watchdog urged the newly elected government in Pakistan to abolish the death penalty. In a letter to Prime Minister Yusuf Raza Gillani, Human Rights Watch said that until the death penalty is abolished by an act of Parliament, Pakistan should announce an immediate moratorium.
"The number of persons sentenced to death and executed every year in Pakistan is among the highest in the world," Brad Adams, Asia director at Human Rights Watch said adding, "if the new government is really interested in justice, it would end this unacceptable state of affairs."
Crimes carrying the death penalty have significantly increased under Pervez Musharraf's government, resulting in a much higher number of death sentences and executions. HRW also urged to the government to establish a commission to review the application of the death penalty, the offences for which it can be applied, and to implement reforms to ensure that international fair trial standards are met.
Of the more than 31,400 convicts in Pakistan, nearly a quarter (more than 7,000 individuals, including almost 40 women) have been sentenced to death and are either involved in lengthy appeals processes or awaiting execution. Noting that most of those executed were poor and illiterate, the HRW said that torture is endemic in Pakistan and can lead to wrongful convictions and execution of innocent people.
Lawyers and human rights activists believe that in many cases the person executed was either innocent or the capital punishment was used to settle political scores, it added. (Sources: The Hindu, 17/06/2008)