News Desk |
Prison authorities throughout Pakistan have been ordered against executing any prisoners from the first of Ramazan until the celebrations of Eid-ul Fitr have ended. Authorities have agreed to temporarily defer the death penalties scheduled for the month of May to honor the sanctity of the holy month of Ramazan.
President Arif Alvi has been tasked with the heavy responsibility of examining prisoners and granting presidential pardons throughout the month of Ramazan. In 2008, upon assuming power the Pakistan People’s Party-led government had imposed a temporary prohibition on undertaking capital punishments and death penalties, but this moratorium was lifted by Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif.
PM Sharif had given an executive order to reinstate capital punishments in the wake of the horrifying terror attack at the Army Public School Peshawar in 2014. Under former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif’s directions, the parliament ushered in the 21st Constitutional Amendment and military courts were established in 2015 to provide speedy justices to the grieving parents who had lost their children to the heinous terror attack of APS.
The courts were established to conduct speedy and effective trials against terrorists, and groups that threaten the national security of the country. This decision was enacted upon as part of a comprehensive National Action Plan devised to eliminate the perils of terrorism. The Express Tribune reports that since 2015, Pakistan has executed nearly 500 prisoners, while there are 289 prisoners in Adiala Jail, Rawalpindi, waiting to be served the death penalty.
Amnesty International presented its report on executions conducted worldwide in 2018, and Pakistan experienced a 77% reduction in executions. However, a report titled “Counting the Condemned”, released by the Justice Project Pakistan (JPP), a human rights group, stated that more than 4,600 prisoners in Pakistan are waiting to be executed, while nearly 821 have been executed during the last 14 years.
During the last three years, the Supreme Court has repealed 85% of the death penalties during appeals launched by prisoners. The report by JPP concludes that Pakistan still has “one of the world’s largest death row populations”.
Sarah Belal, the executive director of Justice Project Pakistan, explained to Al Jazeera that while a reduction in the executions is a welcoming development, Pakistan’s criminal and legal system still remains “far from structural reform”. Belal explained, “This drop in executions cannot be taken as a correction to Pakistan’s abhorrent history of handing out death sentences and executing the mentally ill, juveniles and those wrongfully convicted.”