LAHORE: The Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP) has called upon the government to follow through the commitment it made three years ago to abolish the death penalty and demanded that in the meanwhile the informal moratorium on executions should immediately be made formal in the country.
A statement issued by the commission on Sunday said: “On World Day against Death Penalty (Oct 10), the HRCP reiterates its opposition to the death penalty and its belief that this punishment allows for a very high probability of miscarriage of justice on account of critical deficiencies in the law, administration of justice, police investigation, chronic corruption and cultural prejudices affecting women and religious minorities in the country. This is unacceptable in any civilised society, particularly so when the punishment is irreversible.”
Welcoming the government’s persistence with the stay on executions since December 2008, the commission expressed concern that capital punishment remains on statute books for over two dozen offences and courts continue to give death penalty more or less on the pre-moratorium scale. The moratorium also remains both informal and incremental, lapsing every few months.
The HRCP noted with dismay that no concrete steps had been taken to realise the government’s commitment of 2008 to end the death penalty for all but the most serious offences.
“The high incidence of crime in the country despite Pakistan being among countries with one of the highest rate of conviction to capital punishment in the world demonstrates that capital punishment has no special deterrent effect.
“The HRCP calls upon the government to consistently publicise its reasons for putting in place the moratorium on executions, take effective measures to address the objectives of the people who oppose the abolition of the death penalty and mobilise public support for its abolitionist policy through a sustained awareness campaign.
“The HRCP reiterates its demand that the government must take urgent steps to remove the impression that the death penalty in the litany of offences on the statute books is sanctioned by Islam as it has already been held by the Council of Islamic Ideology that Islamic law mandates capital punishment only for a couple of offences.
“The HRCP calls upon the government to take definite steps towards abolition of capital punishment in Pakistan. As a first step, the informal stay on executions should be made formal and the number of offences that carry the death penalty should be reduced. We also urge the government to sign the Optional Protocol to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, aiming at the abolition of the death penalty,” the statement added.

Source: Dawn – 10.10.2011