End Death Penalty, Human Rights tells Pakistan

New York, Nov 21 (IANS): Pakistani should reinstate its moratorium on the death penalty following its troubling return to the dwindling ranks of countries imposing capital punishment, Human Rights Watch said Wednesday.

On Nov 15, military authorities hanged Muhammad Hussain, an army soldier convicted of murder, at Mianwali jail in Punjab province.

The hanging ended Pakistan's widely hailed unofficial moratorium on the death penalty that had been in place since 2008, Human Rights Watch said.

According to official figures, Pakistan has more than 7,000 prisoners on death row, one of the largest populations of prisoners facing execution in the world.

"After a four-year unofficial moratorium, Pakistan has reverted to the odious practice of sending people to the gallows," said Ali Dayan Hasan, Pakistan director at Human Rights Watch.

"Instead, the government should declare an official moratorium, commute all existing death sentences, and then abolish the death penalty for all crimes once and for all."

On Feb 12, 2009, a court martial in Okara Cantonment sentenced Hussain to death for murdering his superior, Havaldar Khadim Hussain, in 2008.

He subsequently filed mercy petitions to the army's General Headquarters and the chief of army staff, Gen. Ashfaq Parvez Kayani, but they were rejected.

Hussain's final mercy petition to President Asif Ali Zardari was rejected Dec 30, 2011.

While under military rule, Pakistan each year executed among the highest number of people of any country.

For example, according to Amnesty International, in 2005 Pakistan sentenced 241 people to death and executed at least 31, the fifth highest total in the world.


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Title: End Death Penalty, Human Rights tells Pakistan

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