South Asians for Human Rights

Promoting Democracy, Upholding Human Rights

Pakistan today hanged a convicted ‘teen’ killer after postponing his execution four times amid opposition from human rights and civil society groups, who later organised protest marches throughout the country.

Shafqat Hussain, whose case sparked international outcry on the grounds that he was a juvenile at the time of crime in 2004, was executed in Karachi Central Prison in the wee hours.

Shortly after the news of the hanging spread human and civil right activists took out protest marches in Karachi, Islamabad and some other parts of the country protesting the execution.

Gul Zaman, brother of Hussain, told PTI that his family had done their best to help his brother but all efforts failed.

“I met my brother in jail and he was calm and composed and was praying all the time,” Zaman said.

Hussain, a resident of Pakistan-occupied Kashmir, was arrested and convicted in 2004 for the kidnapping and killing of a seven-year-old boy in Karachi. All of hia appeals were turned down.

Initially he was scheduled to be hanged on January 14 but the execution was to be postponed as a controversy cropped up about his age.

Various local and international human rights groups contended that he was convicted at the age of 14 and was deprived of the juvenile laws.

United Nations rights experts have said his trial “fell short of international standards” and asked Pakistan to investigate claims he confessed under torture, as well as his age.

Under Pakistan Juvenile Justice System, no one can be hanged for a crime committed before the age of 18.

Those opposing his hanging said the issue of age was overlooked.

Interior Minister Nisar Ali Khan ordered an inquiry in March to establish the veracity of the lawyers’ contention that Hussain was a minor at the time of sentencing.

After a probe, it was found that Hussain was 23 at the time of crime.

But the legal wrangling went on as the Hussian’s lawyer first challenged the case in Islamabad High Court which rejected their pleas.

Later, the case was taken to the Supreme Court which also rejected arguments about his age. The hanging was postponed four times.

Pakistan lifted the ban on executions in December 2014 following a Taliban attack on a school in Peshawar that killed more than 150 people.

Meanwhile in London, Amnesty International said Shafqat’s execution is a “deeply sad day” for Pakistan.

Pakistan must immediately impose a moratorium on the death penalty after the execution of a man who was below 18 years old at the time of the crime, according to his lawyers, and who was tortured into a “confession” by police, Amnesty said.

“This is another deeply sad day for Pakistan. A man whose age remains disputed and whose conviction was built around torture has now paid with his life – and for a crime for which the death penalty cannot be imposed under international law,” said David Griffiths, Amnesty’s South Asia Research Director.

“The government has shown a callous indifference to not just human life, but also to international law and standards. It has even ignored recommendations by one of its own bodies, the Sindh Human Rights Commission, to request the Supreme Court to consider the evidence relating to his juvenility and ‘confession’ extracted through torture.

“It is too late to save Shafqat Hussain’s life, but there are still thousands of others on death row in Pakistan who are at risk. The government has taken at least 200 lives already over the past eight months – this must end immediately. Authorities must impose a moratorium on the death penalty with a view to its eventual repeal,” Griffths said.

Pakistan has hanged around 180 convicts since restarting executions. Updated On: 04th August 2015