News Analysis |
The government sent the bill for public execution entitled ‘Criminal Amendment Act 2018’ to Council of Islamic Ideology (CII) for review. The bill seeks public hanging for any person convicted of kidnapping a person under the age of fourteen by amending Section 364-A of the Pakistan Penal Code (PPC). The agenda will be placed on the top during the CCI meeting on 8th February.
The demand to bring public execution in the law came after the abduction, rape and murder of seven-year-old Zainab in Kasur. She was abducted on 3rd January from near her house, later on 9th January, her raped and abused dead body was found in a trash heap. The main accused, Imran Ali, has been caught through DNA tests and the Chief Minister of Punjab Shehbaz Sharif held a press conference to announce the capture of the culprit and public execution as his punishment.
The public administration experts also argued against the public hanging as an efficient deterrent to stop crimes. They believe that it only serves the voyeuristic tendencies of the public and contributes in no way to effectively stop the crime.
Since the Zainab murder case, a number of similar cases surfaced throughout the country and there has been an increasing demand for public execution of the culprit from all sections of the society on electronic and social media. The demand is to publically execute all culprits who brutally rape and murder children. Following the demands, Chairman Senate Standing Committee on Interior recommended an amendment to the PPC Section 364-A, adding ‘public hanging’ as the punishment of kidnapping children.
Pakistan abandoned the United Nations moratorium on the death penalty after the 16th December 2014 terrorist attack on Army Public School, Peshawar. It was done in an effort to fight terrorism. Pakistan had executed 465 people by the end of 2017 since abandoning the moratorium. There have been a number of cases where the person on death trial had been later found innocent but had died in prison.
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Only 4 countries in the world currently practice public execution: Iran, Saudi Arabia, North Korea and Somalia. If the amendment is made then Pakistan will join the list of these four countries. International human rights advocates state a number of reasons why the death penalty should be banned. The most important reason is that there is no certain way of knowing if a person has committed a crime or not.
They recommended the government to stop seeking scapegoats in the form of public execution and introduce solid steps for preventing crimes against children in the future.
There have been cases where innocents were punished and given the death penalty while being innocent. While life imprisonment is reversible, a death sentence is irreversible and irreparable. The death penalty violates the right to life which happens to be the most basic of all human rights. It also violates the right not to be subjected to torture and other cruel, inhumane or degrading treatment or punishment.
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The human rights advocates also state that there is no evidence to prove that the death penalty or public hanging has any deterrent effect. The General Assembly of the United Nations (UNGA Resolution 65/206) states that, “there is no conclusive evidence of the deterrent value of the death penalty.” A major reason for the demand of public execution is public support, most of the times, this support is misplaced, and the leaders of a nation shouldn’t give in to the emotional demands of the public and highlight the incompatibility of public execution with human rights and dignity.
Following the demands, Chairman Senate Standing Committee on Interior recommended an amendment to the PPC Section 364-A, adding ‘public hanging’ as the punishment of kidnapping children.
Criminal law experts argue that the government is trying to introduce the public execution amendment to absolve themselves of the blame of the crimes. They argue that there is no conclusive evidence to believe that it will have any deterrent effect on the criminals because it makes no difference to a person whether they are hanged in public or private. If the law enforcement agencies are weak, they will be unable to catch the criminal at the first place.
The public administration experts also argued against the public hanging as an efficient deterrent to stop crimes. They believe that it only serves the voyeuristic tendencies of the public and contributes in no way to effectively stop the crime. They recommended the government to stop seeking scapegoats in the form of public execution and introduce solid steps for preventing crimes against children in the future.