South Asians for Human Rights

Promoting Democracy, Upholding Human Rights

Reprieve, an international non-governmental organisation (NGO) working on death penalty, says the GSP Plus status involves Pakistan committing to certain human rights reforms, including around the death penalty and they will share information with the European Union (EU) officials to ensure they have access to the evidence they need to assess whether these reforms have been delivered or not.

Talking to a group of Pakistani journalists who visited Reprieve headquarters in London, Director of death penalty Maya Foa said as much as 345 people have been executed since the moratorium was lifted in December 2014 to February 05, 2016.

“Majority of those executed not been terrorists or related to terrorism. An independent analysis by various organisations carried out last year estimated that ‘fewer than one in six’ of those hanged between December 2014-July 2015 ‘were linked to militancy’. Reprieve is currently working on new figures which indicate the proportion since then may be even lower, but we have yet to finalise these,” commented Maya.

She said that the GSP Plus status involves Pakistan committing to certain human rights reforms, including around the death penalty.

To a question about what is Reprieve’s take on these executions and the government’s argument that they are aimed at uprooting terrorism in Pakistan, she said as independent analysis has shown, the vast majority of those executed have not been terrorists.

“Most of those being hanged have not even been accused of terrorism. Rather, they are often the poor and disadvantaged, or victims of the widespread use by the police of torture to extract false ‘confessions.’

It is hard to see how executing hundreds of people like this will do anything to make the country safer,” she remarked. When asked what steps are being taken by Reprieve to stop death penalties in Pakistan, she said Reprieve continues to work to support some of the poorest and most vulnerable people on Pakistan’s death row, who have suffered from torture, unfair trials and other abuses.

“We are particularly concerned by the execution of people who were sentenced to death as children – something which happened at least five times last year. One example is Faisal Mehmood, who was executed on 27 May even though when the case reached the Supreme Court even the prosecutor agreed that he should not face the death penalty as he was under 18 at the time of the alleged crime (he was tried just months before the introduction of the Juvenile Justice System Ordinance).

The execution of juveniles is a serious breach of both Pakistani and international law and something which the government needs to address urgently. 

The moratorium needs to be reinstated until serious flaws in the justice system such as this can be fixed,” commented Maya.

Updated On: February 14, 2016